Title: The Wild Way Home
Written by: Sophie Kirtley
Illustrated by: Ben Mantle
Published by: Bloomsbury
The Wild Way Home is a unique book where the gender of protagonist, twelve-year old Charlie Merriam, is not revealed and is left up to the reader. The story works well with Charlie as a boy just as it does if she is a girl and to be honest I did not think her gender was relevant. However, my preference by the end of the book was to think of Charlie as a girl in that when she is whisked through time to the Stone Age and discovers Harby, he is searching for his baby sister. In contrast Charlie is running away from her baby brother.
Charlie has always wanted a baby brother but when Dara is born on her birthday and the doctors discover he has a heart defect, she is unable to deal with emotional turmoil of her brother’s life-threatening condition and sharing her special day. Her response is to run from her problems and hide in the forest where she loves to play with her friends. A place where she normally feels safe.
Written in the first person we get a deep insight into Charlie’s feelings and wave of mixed emotions at the hospital and on her adventures in the forest that used to be so familiar but has (like her family life) suddenly changed into a ‘wild’ almost unrecognisable landscape. Sophie Kirtley paints vivid descriptions of a Stone Age environment, complete with cave paintings, wolves, spirit songs, primitive tools and a strange new language.
Charlie discovers it is alright to be afraid of change and it is ok to worry about things that happen, which they are unable to control.
“Things happen, bad things sometimes and sometimes people get a bit broken…”
The story emphasises how things are easier when you don’t try to deal with them alone. In this way, The Wild Way Home carries a message of hope that together with love and support from friends and family we can get through the bad times.
A great book for PSHE sessions for discussing the different ways people react and cope with scary situations and ways we can safely manage circumstance that make them anxious.