written by Candy Gourlay
cover illustrated by Kerby Rosanes
published by David Fickling Books August 2018
256 pages in hardback including bonus material
adolescence & adventure in an astounding world
Summary from David Fickling Books
More than a hundred years ago, a boy named Samkad thinks he knows everything about the world. He knows the mountains he lives in. He knows his people. He knows his blood enemy, the Mangili. And he wants to become a man, to be given his own shield, spear and axe to fight with. His best friend, Luki, wants all the same things – but she is a girl, and no girl has ever become a warrior.
But everything changes when a new boy arrives in the village. He calls himself Samkad’s brother, yet he knows nothing of the ways of the mountain. And he brings news of a people called ‘Americans’, who are bringing war and destruction right to his home . . .
A reader’s perspective
Go into a bookshop (preferably an independent one) and pick up Bone Talk. Have a good look at Kerby Rosanes’ striking, intricate artwork. Think of the hours of work – and research – which went into that. If that appeals, buy the book.
It reflects the book admirably.
Buy the book if you are a reader who is fascinated by worlds and cultures different to their own. If adventure tempts you, if war and conflict provoke your interest, if you’ve ever wondered how young people become adults in another time or place, buy the book.
Would a fresh perspective on colonialism interest you? Buy the book.
Who could you buy Bone Talk for? A reasonably confident reader would sail through its elegantly simple prose. The story itself wouldn’t suit the young or the squeamish: the Bontok people were headhunters after all. But it’s chock-full of excitement, peril, more humour than you might expect, and great humanity.
A Writer and Editor’s View
Features to admire:
- unobtrusive, first rate world-building
- convincing first person writing – universal but grounded in time and place
- uncomplicated yet beautiful style
- respect for culture – not actual #ownvoices – but as near as
- treads a delicate line between acceptability and authenticity
- avoidance of stereotypes
- drama, conflict and affection
- risk-taking on behalf of David Fickling Books