By Author / Illustrator
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Paperback / softback
Upset and afraid, Charlie flees the hospital and makes for the ancient forest on the edge of town. There Charlie finds a boy floating face-down in the stream, injured, but alive. But when Charlie sets off back to the hospital to fetch help, it seems the forest has changed. It's become a place as strange and wild as the boy dressed in deerskins. For Charlie has unwittingly fled into the Stone Age, with no way to help the boy or return to the present day. Or is there?
What follows is a wild, big-hearted adventure as Charlie and the Stone Age boy set out together to find what they have lost - their courage, their hope, their family and their way home. Fans of Piers Torday and Stig of the Dump will love this wild, wise and heartfelt debut adventure.
Charlie Merriam is having a tough time. He's wished for a baby brother for years, but when baby Dara finally arrives, it's on Charlie's birthday and Dara is not what Charlie expected -he's tiny, screaming, and very poorly. It's all just too much and the only thing Charlie can think of to do is get away, escape to his safe place in Mandel Woods. The only thing is, Charlie gets a bit further away than he planned, and somehow time-slips back to the Stone Age - and this is no 'safe place' at all.
What follows is a brilliantly written and engaging adventure, full of peril, laughter, cliff-hangers (quite literally), friendship and heartfelt emotion. The Wild Way Home has something for everyone.
The clarity of writing and plot and fully realised main characters, combined with emotional depth and range of themes to discuss, would make this an excellent UKS2 class reader, particularly if linked to the Stone Age topic - I would choose The Wild Way Home over Stig of the Dump any day. The pace rattles along (I can already imagine the 'just one more chapter!' cries) with plenty of gasp-out-loud moments, but also moments for quiet reflection and deep discussion.
The Wild Way Home is a stunning debut children's novel which I cannot recommend highly enough - Sophie Kirtley is definitely an author to watch.
256 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Carol Carter, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+
Charlie has long dreamed of having a sibling and is delighted when he's woken on his 12th birthday to be told he has a baby brother. But his happiness doesn't last when he discovers Dara is very poorly. He's not the pink, beautiful baby brother he was expecting. As fear takes over, Charlie runs and ends up far, far, far away with no idea how to get home.
An emotional adventure about courage, inner strength, hope and facing the harder parts of life together.
Charlie travels back in time from the Mandel Forest, where he lives today, to a Mandel Forest of the past. This Mandel Forest is evocative of childhood days of summers past: the games, adventures and laughter shared with friends and the myriad of places to hide with your tears and fears. And there's a map! The timeslip felt effortless as we passed back to the Stone Age to meet Arby, an older brother desperate to make safe Mothga, who we learn is his little sister. The boys' tentative steps towards helping each other was the perfect pitch of fear, tension and trust seen in fledgling friendships born out of necessity.
The plot moves at pace, while never ignoring the emotions driving Charlie and Arby, with just the right amount of scares for younger readers looking for a longer novel to get stuck into.
I laughed...I cried. I loved it. A stunning debut. This is a perfect class read for Lower Key Stage 2 and above, and great for fans of: Boot: Small Robot, Big Adventure by Shane Hegarty; The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell; and The 1000 Year Old Boy by Ross Welford.
256 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Nicki Cleveland, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+