Reviews /

Wild Song

Authored by Candy Gourlay
Illustrated by Leo Nickolls
Published by David Fickling Books

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Wild Song: It is 1904, and the Philippines is under American Rule. Luki’s village in the mountains is changing in many ways, yet as a woman, she is unable, forbidden even, to keep up with these changes. Although she is a better hunter than any man in her village, the ancients forbid her to hunt, and Luki, now growing up, will soon be expected to marry, whether she wants to or not.

An invitation arrives from President Theodore Roosevelt: A chance to visit the World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. Despite the ancients’ firm ‘No’, Luki jumps at this opportunity. How could she say no to freedom?

But Luki will discover that the land of opportunity is not what she expects. Soon, she realises that she is at the fair as a source of entertainment which leaves her feeling dehumanised and humiliated.

From the first page, this book transports you to the mountainous regions of the Philippines, and it was very easy to feel Luki’s frustrations and outrage about decisions being made for her. The characters in this book are vivid and convincing. Through them history, culture and identity are clearly expressed and illustrated. The rich descriptions in this book make you feel like you are there with Luki, over a hundred years in the past. It is a book that will teach readers much about the past, society and human rights.

Gourlay covers some very heavy topics in this book, ranging from racism, gender inequality and the horrors faced by indigenous people by colonisers. We experience this through Luki’s eyes as she grapples with her journey, relationships, and encounters with others.

A very thought-provoking read that will absolutely spark discussion as a whole class read and as part of guided reading. Recommended for children in Y6 and above.