Kate Shepherd reviews two books for suitable for younger teenagers, in which remarkable journeys have been undertaken by the central character.
Lion: A Long Way Home (Young Readers’ Edition)
Lion: A Long Way Home Young Readers’ Edition by Saroo Brierley pb 9780143784760 $17.00
Saroo’s amazing story is now well known since it has recently been made into a popular movie. However you were perhaps not aware that it has now been published in a Young Readers’ Edition. It is a truly remarkable story of how a five year boy from a very poor family in India became lost on a train in India and travelled till he ended up at the main railway station in Kolkata. Somehow he managed to survive and after some months, he was lucky enough to be placed in an orphanage and was then adopted by a couple in Tasmania. He was very happy with his new life but also wanted to find his Indian family. When the new technology of Google Earth became available, he spent years searching the railway lines out of Kolkata, trying to find the familiar landmarks distinguishing his village and a nearby town.
Miraculously he found the village and then travelled back to meet his family. There are so many elements of this story that are incredible but perhaps the most astonishing is the way Saroo consciously made sure he maintained his memory of the streets where he had lived and the way to the railway station and other landmarks. Even at the age of five, he didn’t want to forget because he wanted to go back and find his mother, sister and brothers. This would be such an interesting book for discussion. Saroo’s family was very close and loving even though they lived in extreme poverty. Since his mother had to work all day, Saroo at the age of four or five looked after his little sister when she was just one or two years old. The description of his time in Kolkata is scary. The story is vivid and well written and includes photos of his arrival at the orphanage, his family in Tasmania and also when he goes back to India and sees his family again. (11 – 14 years) KS
Journey to the River Sea
Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson pb 9781509832255 $15.00
A very English eccentric extravagance gives a sense of exhilaration to this story of a young orphan girl who at the turn of the century leaves England and goes on a long journey to the Amazon with her governess. The town of Manaus is a place of horror to some because of the all-pervasive insects, wildlife, heat, fearsome Indians and steamy lushness but for others like Maia and her governess, it is a place of endless wonder, of amazing creatures, plant life and people. Maia is a most resourceful heroine who shows her ingenuity time and again as she struggles to live in the same house as her thoroughly obnoxious relatives. This is a richly satisfying adventure story which has warmth, humour and a sense of the fantastic. This is the 15th Anniversary edition of this much loved classic. (9 – 14 years) KS
Feature Image: Pixabay – Kolkata Market