Walkabout by James Vance Marshall
Walkabout is the story of a meeting of two very different cultures. A girl and her younger brother on their way to Australia from America are stranded in the Northern Territory after a plane crash in which they are the only survivors. They encounter a young Aboriginal boy on his ‘walkabout.’ He helps them find water and food but the girl mistrusts him and he misunderstands her behaviour, resulting in tragic consequences. The story is short, simple and sparse and a wonderful book to read aloud.
Charlotte Mason said in Home Education, Volume 1:
‘Every now and then there occurs a holy moment, felt to be holy by mother and child.’
This book helped to bring about a holy moment in the life of my youngest son who was about 6 years old at the time. There was a poignant event towards the end of the story which led to some very deep questions about the nature of God and how he viewed people who didn’t know Him. I’ll never forget the impact that story had on my son and the opening it gave me to communicate something of the heart of God to him.
Holy moments are not usually planned and they can come when we are least expecting them. Sharing a good book with a child creates an environment which is conducive to times like this.
Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery
Written in the early years of World War 2, Enemy Brothers is an outstanding story that revolves around Dym, a young man serving in the R.A.F. who believes that a 12 year old German boy imprisoned on a British man-of-war and brought back to England is his brother who was kidnapped as an infant and whom he had been searching for before the war put a halt to his efforts.
What sets this story apart is the developing relationship between Dym and his estranged brother and the patience and faith displayed in the older brother as he tenderly works at breaking down the indoctrination and resistance of the younger boy. It is a story of ‘love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things.’
Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan Eckert
‘A slightly fictionized version of an incident which actually occurred at the time and place noted.’
The time was 1870 and the place was the Winnipeg area in Canada. Ben, a withdrawn, lonely and frail little boy of 6 years of age, wanders away from his home and disappears into the surrounding prairie. For two months there is no trace of Ben, no clue as to what has happened to him. How he is eventually found and how he survived for all that time with nothing but a female badger to help him is a gripping, emotional story.
We don’t have badgers here and we’ve never seen one except in pictures – a wombat might be our closest match, but it was easy to become involved in this story nonetheless. Not surprisingly, it was a Newberry Honor Book in 1972.
The King’s Swift Rider by Mollie Hunter
Mollie Hunter (1922-2012) was a well-known Scottish author who drew much of her material for her novels from Scotland’s history. This book is based on actual events that occurred during the war of Scottish independence during the time of Robert the Bruce. It’s a thrilling book, full of action, heroic deeds and patriotism. It does have a couple of gory moments that you might need to slightly edit. If you have any Scottish heritage in you at all your blood will rise and you’ll want to listen to the bagpipes.
15 thoughts on “Four First Rate Living Books to Read Aloud”
I am taking note of all four of them. I like your reviews and what you share about Walkabout.Thank you.
Have the first book:) Actually have only watched the movie as a teen, it made me uncomfortable for some reason, can't remember why. Keep meaning to get the second, have read the third as a RD copy, and although I don't have the 4th I have several others by the author. Love reading your book review:)
I could imagine a movie version of Walkabout might get uncomfortable, depending on how it was handled – haven't seen the movie. The good thing about reading aloud is being able to edit if necessary; which I've often done to some extent because of the range of ages we have. Enemy Brothers is one of my favourites.
As the author of the Constance Savery website, I appreciated your review of Enemy Brothers. It is a challenge to write a long review that gets to the heart of things and even harder to write a short one. Congratulations!I wasn't aware that Walkabout, the movie, was based upon a book, which I plan to get and read. The beginning of the movie is much more traumatic than a 'simple plane crash' and I don't doubt that many viewers would be disturbed by the movie–which I certainly would not recommend for young children. The voice-over version of the movie is well worth listening to.
Thank you! Reb & the Rebcoats was also another Constance Savery book we read & thought was very good also. She brought a different & thoughtful perspective to the two time periods she wrote about in these books.
What wonderful-sounding books! I love it that a young child can identify with the hero of each story and make emotional connections!
Oh, I remember reading Walkabout when I was at school (many moons ago!) It made a great impression then, I remember, especially thinking about how someone can will themselves to die. I must get hold of a copy for my kids, thank you for your recommendations.
Great reviews, I'm always looking for good books- could you put an age recommendation with them, 4 of my children are under 9.Thank you so much
Hi Kim, the age recommendations on the books are 10 & up except for the Mollie Hunter book which is 12 & up. I've read all 4 with younger children around 6 years of age with some slight editing on Walkabout (140 pgs) & King's Swift Rider (241 pgs). I try to choose books which will suit a range of ages & usually end up veering to books that are a bit above the younger ones but they usually enjoy them anyhow. Hawk's Hill – 207 pgs; Enemy Bros.287 pgs.
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