A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Into That Forest graphically depicts life and death in the wilderness. There's a lot of blood and gore that might shock readers of any age, but it's in the context of a survival story. Even the civilized people in the remote, early-20th-century setting have a closer relationship to life and death than we may be accustomed to now, but it's matter of fact in this context: People and animals get shot with hunting rifles, and accidents happen. Hannah uses salty language not to swear but to convey information ("s--t" and "piss" for body functions or product, except one instance of "pissed off"). The female thylacine is referred to a few times as the "bitch." "T-ts," "damn," "hell," and "arse" are used once or twice each. Indigenous people are several times referred to as "black fellas" without racist undertones. There are mentions of adults drinking beer or whiskey. A man shows a girl his genitals and points to hers in an asexual attempt to communicate about gender without language. Main characters die violently and tragically, and readers may shed some tears.
What's the story?
Growing up around the turn of the last century, Hannah lives in a remote part of Tasmania. When she's about 6 years old, she and friend Becky are stranded when a violent storm wrecks their boat and separates them from Hannah's parents. Hannah and Becky are saved by a pair of thylacines, canine-like carnivorous marsupials (extinct starting in about 1936) called Tasmanian tigers because of their striped coats. Enduring tremendous hardship without warm clothes or the ability to make fire, and with hope of rescue diminishing, Becky and Hannah learn to survive and thrive thanks to their adoptive wild parents. Soon the girls live and behave like the tigers, eventually even losing their ability to speak. After four years in the wild, they're finally found by Becky's father and abruptly taken back to civilization. Reintegrating into human life proves nearly impossible and comes at a heavy price.
Is it any good?
INTO THAT FOREST carves its own spot among literature's great adventure stories. As fantastic as the events are, author Louis Mowra's unusual, distinctive narrative voice is so believable you'll think it must be a true story. Complicated themes of family, friendship, and loyalty are artfully explored with a visceral and sometimes brutal beauty. By having Hannah tell the story with a young child's understanding, Mowra conveys tremendous depth of feeling without sentimentality. This is not to mention the gripping, lean, fast-paced action that makes it almost impossible to put down.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the blood and gore in Into That Forest. Do you think it's necessary to tell the story?
Why isn't the book divided into chapters? How would it be different to read if it were?
Have you ever had your loyalty or friendship put to the test? How did you handle it?
- Author: Louis Nowra
- Genre: Literary Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing
- Publication date: September 3, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 153
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
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