When Things Went Wild

Authored by Tom Mitchell
Published by Harper Collins

Tagged , , ,

When Things Went Wild combines mystery, humour and themes including conservation and adapting to a new home and school in a fast-paced story with a wide appeal. 

When Kit and his family move to Scotland and an old house ‘in the middle of nowhere’ Kit has to cope with a new school, his irritating little brother, Jack, and a lack of Wi-Fi. But then one day urged by his parents to go for a walk, Kit and Jack discover a strange object on the moors and Kit’s problems mount up still further. First there is a visit by the police who confirm that the boys have found a tracker that has been removed from the leg of a golden eagle and that these remarkable birds are under threat, with one recently disappearing in strange circumstances. Then when Kit decides to do his school project on the missing eagle the concerned reactions of others to this idea encourage him to investigate more deeply. Soon Kit and Jack are joined by Tamora, the most popular girl in Kit’s class, and her sister Bea as together they endeavour to find out who is trying to harm the eagles and why. The suspects include Tamora’s wealthy landowner father, Lord Cavendish, so solving the mystery is not going to be a straightforward affair. 

Many children will identify with the difficulties Kit experiences as he tries to fit in at his new school and his attempts at making new friendships. The family dynamics too are portrayed with a realistic and understanding touch; the sibling quarrels between the two brothers are grounded in an affection that becomes more apparent as the plot develops. Tom Mitchell’s wry humour ensures that this story engages from the first page and the narrative voice of Kit is both distinctive and appealing. However, beneath the fun and the adventure there are serious issues explored within this whodunnit. The plot was inspired by a newspaper report in 2020 about a golden eagle that had gone missing ‘in mysterious circumstances’ and Kit’s investigation and his growing involvement with the Cavendish family draws attention to the way in which these creatures are threatened today. The author’s note highlights the work of the RSPB in this area and this story will increase awareness among young readers. The incorporation of grouse shooting into the plot allows for an exploration of society’s differing attitudes and Kit’s response to this could prompt thoughtful discussion about the subject in the classroom. 

When Things Went Wild is an enjoyable read and its short chapters, cliff-hanger moments, likeable characters and humour give this a wide appeal that would encourage reading for pleasure. As a school librarian I was frequently asked to recommend ‘a funny book’ and this one definitely falls into that category but with thoughtful themes threaded through the light-hearted moments. 

Loading component ...