The Rewilders by Lindsay Littleson

Published by Pokey Hat, an imprint of Cranachan Publishing, 2022.

The Rewilders is an exciting adventure set in the Scottish Highlands, among wild wolves and lynx. I really enjoyed it.

Esme is annoyed and braced for boredom when she’s sent to stay with her gran for a long weekend, until she discovers a terrible mistake. Cora, the abandoned kitten Gran found on the Rothiecraig Estate, is in fact a wild lynx kit and she is growing – fast! 

Suddenly, Esme along with Callum – the last person from school she’d choose for company – and Shug, the worst guard dog in the world, find themselves on a dangerous mission to rewild Cora. The situation takes a terrifying turn when the children pitch their tents on a bleak Highland moor and hear wolves howling outside…

The story is told as a dual narrative and I liked seeing events from both Esme and Callum’s perspectives, and having an insight into their thoughts. The two children do not get along at school. Callum is the troubled new kid and Esme hangs out with mean girl Isobel and has been drawn into her bullying behaviour, most of which is directed at Callum. The themes of peer pressure and personal responsibility were explored well, as was the nature of real friendship. Over the course of the three days that they spend together, Esme and Callum see different sides to each other and the hostility between them begins to ease. Their developing friendship was one of my favourite aspects of the book.

The book explores the processes and rationale of rewilding, presenting both the advantages and disadvantages. Wolves and lynx once roamed wild across Scotland and the book makes you reflect on how humans have upset the balance of the natural world. The children visit some of the last remaining ancient temperate rainforest in Scotland – the descriptions of which were magical.

Lindsay Littleson vividly evokes the colours, sights and sounds of the Scottish Highlands and the book is an ode to the region’s beauty and its wildlife. It’s made me long to visit the region.

Another of the book’s themes is around fostering and adoption. Callum has been in foster care for most of his life, moved from one family to another. With Sadie, his current foster carer, he’s finally found someone who fully understands and supports him. I loved their relationship.

The dynamic between Sadie and Jean (Esme’s gran) is brilliant too. The pair are hilarious together; their dialogue and interactions really made me laugh.

The Rewilders is a terrific book full of tension and plot twists, interwoven with a very satisfying story of self-discovery.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 8+

Thank you to Cranachan Publishing for sending me this book to review.

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