Harry’s perfect life was straying way off track. he looked pleadingly at Mum. Surely she could see? Spending an entire weekend tramping around stinking-hot snake-filled scrub was a horrible mistake. But doing it without a phone? That was just brutal.
Harry is not happy. Not only has his mum moved him from his comfortable life in Sydney to live in Perth, but now she’s agreed to spend the weekend hiking in the bush with her old friend Ana, and her daughter Deepika. There are snakes, and spiders and insects in the bush – and, worst of all, no mobile phones allowed. Well, not for Harry, anyway. Mum seems to be the only one allowed to have her phone. She says it’s in case of emergencies, but Harry knows she’ll be using it every chance she gets. Out on the Bibbulmun Track, his worst fears are realised – there really are snakes and spiders. And every time they are in range, Mum has her phone out. Then, just when he starts to enjoy himself, Harry discovers that things really can go wrong out in the bush.
Off the Track highlights the Australian outdoors, and especially Western Australia’s iconic Bibbulmun Track, in a pleasing blend of adventure and self-discovery. Many young readers will relate to Harry’s dismay of being ‘forced’ to live without every day conveniences like flushing toilets, beds, and technology. Others will love the outdoors setting and the taste of hiking the story offers.
Gripping junior fiction.
Off the Track, by Cristy Burne
Fremantle Press, 2018
Miku and her class are off on school camp, and she should be revelling in time away and no homework. But something’s wrong. She can smell it, she can feel it.
‘Cait, are you still there?’ I could hear breathing on the other end of the phone, but Cait’s voice had disappeared, cut off halfway through a sentence. ‘Hello?’ It was dark outside, late on the night before school camp, and I had a bad feeling in my gut that was cutting like knives. I was supposed to be packing shirts and shoes and lucky charms to take to camp, but I hadn’t even opened my case.
Miku and her class are off on school camp, and she should be revelling in time away and no homework. But something’s wrong. She can smell it, she can feel it. Cait, who believed her and helped her in her first brush with Japanese demons, is acting oddly. For a start she claims to have no knowledge of the demons they fought so recently. Before they even reach the camp, an ancient man appears and offers a treat to one of their classmates. Miku struggles to make anyone believe they are all in danger. Not even Cait seems to understand the urgency. But there’s no way Miku is going to be able to best the demons on her own. Help, when it finally comes, is from unexpected quarters.
The Filth Licker is the second instalment in the Takeshita Demon series from Cristy Burne and the action proceeds at breakneck pace as it does in the first adventure. They feature demons from Japanese mythology who have for some reason followed Miku and her family in their move from Japan to London. Miku is assisted in her fighting of the demons by remembering the stories told her by her grandmother. In Japan, they were protected from the demons by her grandmother and by a house ghost, but in England their protection seems to have vanished. Miku is a clear-thinking and resourceful demon fighter, who must often fight alone. The demons are clever and resourceful, but always there is a way to overcome them. The disgustingly-named Filth Licker is just one of them! Recommended for upper primary readers.
Takeshita Demons 2: The Filth Licker, Cristy Burne
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books 2011
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author