The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley

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Published by Bloomsbury, 2020.

The Wild Way Home is a fantastic Stone Age time-slip adventure. The opening scene is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. It begins in the middle of action and very cleverly leads the reader into thinking they’re witnessing something very different to what is actually taking place. This passage could be used to great effect in class.

The Wild Way Home is the story of 12-year-old Charlie Merriam who finds himself whisked back in time to the Stone Age. The setting remains the same, Mandel Forest – the wood near where he lives – only now the trees are thicker and the wildlife is very different. Charlie hasn’t been there long when he stumbles upon Harby, a Stone Age boy. He’s injured and Charlie helps him by bandaging his wound. After some uncertainty and mistrust, the two boys become friends.

I liked how there are parallels between the two boys, even though they are from times thousands of years apart. Both boys have baby siblings in need of protection; Charlie’s new baby brother has been born with a heart problem and Harby’s sister is missing. And both Charlie and Harby are running from something that frightens them.

What particularly struck me about Sophie Kirtley’s writing were her wonderful descriptions, especially of the natural world:

“A cloud of ragged crows rise like witches’ handkerchiefs from a tall tree.”

She is able to convey the beauty and the force of the wild. I liked how she portrayed a landscape that was familiar to Charlie, but also very different to what he knew.

With her descriptions of cave paintings, primitive tools and early language, Sophie has captured the Stone Age era very well.

The Wild Way Home is an exciting story, full of peril. There are lynx, wolves and eagles not to mention a shadowy figure lurking just out of sight. Charlie faces danger at every turn and must quickly learn how to survive in this new world. It’s a story of brotherly love and friendship and discovering how to cope with “things [that] are just too big… too big to know what to do with.”

Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 8+

Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing me with an electronic version of this book via NetGalley.

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