Book review: Fun, discovery and adventure with Walker children’s books

Take a trip to a brutal post-apocalyptic world, join a troubled teen haunted by tragedy and share ‘cheep’ laughs with some chirpy chicks…

Monday, 10th February 2014, 9:00 am
Ashala Wolf
Ashala Wolf

Walker Books, a publisher dedicated to creating the best stories and pictures for children everywhere, has some exciting new books to keep out the winter chill.

From its humble beginnings in a spare bedroom back in 1980, Walker has grown into Britain’s leading independent children’s book publisher, creating over 300 books every year.

The secret of its success is bold, innovative books based on founder Sebastian Walker’s simple but effective company ethos… ‘All that counts is that a child says at the end of the book, Again!’

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And true to that spirit, here are the latest, exciting additions:

Age 12 plus:

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

A terrifying post-apocalyptic world, a girl fighting for freedom and a machine that can penetrate your mind… what could be more thrilling?

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf has all this, plus stunning plot twists that will have fans gasping for the next instalment of The Tribe, a series which promises to be the new teen must-read.

Ambelin Kwaymullina, an Aboriginal from the Palyku people in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, is a natural born storyteller and her fast-paced, all-action debut novel packs more surprises than a magician’s hat.

With a storyline that moves between past and present, introduces a cast of vibrant characters and embraces themes like social injustice, alienation, the environment and the misuse of power, it soon becomes clear that this is original and exciting writing.

Hundreds of years into the future, Ashala Wolf must lead her Tribe – runaway Illegals hiding out in the Firstwood – in their fight for freedom and justice.

But first she has to survive an interrogation at the hands of the authorities who are determined to destroy her and everything she stands for. The old world has long gone and the society which emerged from the ruins of environmental catastrophe is obsessed with maintaining ‘the Balance.’

The Balance is supposed to preserve harmony between humans and nature but there is a problem. People born with any sort of ‘ability’ are deemed Illegals, a threat to the power of the authorities, and consequently must be controlled and detained.

Ashala Wolf has run away to escape this fate but when she is captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose, she must use all her resilience to protect the Tribe. Injured, vulnerable and with her Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to a machine that will pull secrets from her mind.

And beside her is Justin Connor, once her friend but now her enemy and betrayer, and he’s watching her every move. Will the Tribe survive their leader’s interrogation?

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is a dynamic dystopian adventure. Kwaymullina’s writing is crisp, fluent and full of expression and colour, while the world she creates is superbly detailed and breathtakingly credible.

Ashala, fearless and forthright, has strong connections to the natural world and the strength she gains from her dreams and her link to the old spirits of the earth is a powerful and moving reflection of the author’s own Aboriginal culture.

Don’t miss the amazing adventure…

(Walker, paperback, £7.99)

Age 13 plus:

Never Ending by Martyn Bedford

How do you learn to live again when you are haunted by the past?

Martyn Bedford explores the raw edges of bereavement and grief in a funny, moving, no-nonsense and yet supremely sensitive novel featuring a teenage girl who cannot come to terms with the death of her brother.

Honest to the point of painful, brutal in its confrontations with unbearable loss and wise in its emotional insight, Never Ending is a journey to hell illuminated by the bright promise of redemption.

The family trip to a luxury villa in Kyritos, Greece, at Easter was all set to be the best ever holiday for 15-year-old Shiv Faverdale and her younger brother Declan.

Declan – funny, lovable and too smart for his own good – had what her mum calls ‘a big personality.’ He wasn’t just her kid brother; he was her best mate.

But Declan died one night during that fateful holiday and four months later Shiv is still tormented by guilt and finding it hard to live with the person she has become. She’s in trouble at school, at home and with the police and no-one – social workers, teachers, counsellors, doctors, therapists – can help.

She has tried hard to smile, be pleasant, be normal but she can only manage about ten minutes of ‘nice’ before reverting to ‘nasty.’

Mum is also ‘a mess,’ dad is doing best but failing and so Shiv has agreed to spend the summer holidays at the Korsakoff Clinic with five other teens and young adults who are undergoing a mysterious and unorthodox therapy.

Each of them has suffered a traumatic bereavement and for each of them it is their last chance to learn to live again.

And so, session by session, day by day and night by night, Shiv and her fellow ‘residents’ are forced to confront painful events and slowly but surely discover the road to acceptance…

Weaving between events in Greece and at the clinic, Bedford tackles an emotive subject with finesse, subtlety and deep empathy, allowing past and present to merge into a tough but beautiful and beguiling story.

(Walker, paperback, £7.99)

Age 2 plus:

Say Hello Like This by Mary Murphy

Now here’s a book that looks as good as it sounds… a terrific encounter with a menagerie of quirky animals and a chance to learn all about their irresistible and instantly recognisable ‘voices.’

Mary Murphy, creator of A Kiss Like This, brings us a delightful, read-aloud, easy-to-follow picture book escapade with croaky frogs, tappy beetles, purry cats and lots of other clucky, honky creatures.

A gentle, reassuring introduction to different kinds of animals and their methods of communication, this bold and colourful picture story is perfect for toddlers and babies.

Using a clever split-page format full of funny and noisy surprises and eye-catching glitter detail, author and illustrator Murphy’s charming story will have youngsters clapping their hands and joining in the fun.

Animal magic just made to share…

(Walker, hardback, £10.99)