Name: The Girl Savage
Author: Katherine Rundell
Living like a wild cat on a farm in the middle of rural Africa, for Will everyday is beautiful. With her best friend, horse, monkey and adored father: nothing could possibly spoil it. Even when the petty Mrs Browne marries the head farmer, her father is there to protect her. However, all good things must come to an end eventually.
When her father falls ill and the farm is sold, Will is sent away to boarding school in England. Dreary, rainy England where the closes thing to a golden eagle is a bloated pigeon. So Will struggles alone with an unfamiliar county with unfamiliar customs – for ‘lions and hyenas are nothing compared to packs of schoolgirls’.
The Girl Savage is an engaging book all about friendship, hope and the wilderness of Africa. It has a vivid, if not bittersweet, storyline and Katherine Rundell uses incredibly vivid imagery to transport you to Zimbabwe. I have had the pleasure of listening to one of her talks and she spoke quite a lot about this – her first book. She had grown up in Africa and England; also saying that she had included parts from her own childhood summers in it, from riding horses at midnight to sleepovers in treehouses. One point I would downgrade it on is how there is no particular mystery or adventure in it, just one girl struggling to find her way home – and the storyline can become just plain unhappy at times. However, its 200 or so pages are perfect for readers ages 8-11.
SWEETENER: Any animal lovers will adore all of Will’s friend: she has a really cute sloth that goes with her always, alongside a menagerie of other animals from a horse and a monkey to her father’s peacock. Her best friend Simon definitely resembles an animal at times as well! He’s funny, loyal and a bit wild so perfect for Will. Losing him and her father in quick succession as she travels to England takes its toll on her, and she has to fight to ever see him again.
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