Me name be Hannah O’Brien and I be seventy-six years old. Me first thing is an apology – me language is bad cox I lost it and had to learn it again. But here’s me story and I be glad to tell it before I hop the twig.
I were born in Tasmania, born not in a hospital but here in the backblocks. In this actual house. It is crumbling round me ears now, but the roof hardly leaks and if I chop enough wood I can heat the place when it snows. Though I live here by meself I am not lonely.
Hannah lives deep in the Tasmanian wilderness, with only her mother for company. Her father, a whaler, is a welcome but infrequent third member of their family. Only Rebecca and her father visit, and not very often. So it is a special day when her father is home, and her friend Rebecca has come to stay overnight. The family set off on the river for a special picnic. The weather changes and the river becomes a monster. Hannah and Rebecca end up in the bush, saved by Tasmanian Tigers. Hour by hour, week by week, they become less human, more tiger, until they forget their language, forget almost everything they have known before. Survival depends on working together with their tiger family. Each section begins with an image of the Tasmanian bush and text that begins large then diminishes to normal size.
Into That Forest is a powerful story of survival. Two young girls find themselves in the forest being raised by Tasmanian Tigers. The Tiger world is a brutal one and the girls must adapt or perish. Their Tiger family are patient and caring in teaching them all they must know. The action is set in a time when Tigers were being killed to protect the interests of the growing farming community. It is suggested that the target reader is in mid- to upper-primary but the story deserves a wide readership and has much interest for adults too. The main theme is that of survival, but friendship and family bonds are also explored in depth. The girls must survive not only their experience in the bush but its aftermath. Recommended for mid-primary and for all ages beyond.
Into That Forest, Louis Nowra
Allen & Unwin 2012 ISBN: 9781743311646
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Available from good bookstores or online.