Imogen Russell Williams’ August roundup led with two historical novels:
There’s a rich harvest of historical adventure for readers of eight-plus this month. Set in the late 18th century, Catherine Johnson’s Freedom (Scholastic) is the powerful story of Nathaniel, brought from Jamaica to England solely to tend pineapple plants aboard the ship by masters who have sold off his mother and sister. Believing that all slaves are free on English soil, Nat looks forward to making his fortune and buying back his family; swiftly disillusioned, he begins to plan his escape. At times harrowing (especially during its description of the Zong court case in 1783, dealing with the murder of 133 slaves at sea), the story is also filled with humour, compassion and hope – humanity’s worst and best, shown side by side.
Candy Gourlay’s Bone Talk (David Fickling) is set in the Philippines at the end of the 19th century. Ten-year-old Samkad, of the Bontok tribe, is desperate to prove himself against the enemy Mangili. Seismic change is coming, however, in the form of other invaders, offering contempt and treachery along with gifts of sweets and guns. Can the Bontok survive the Americans, as well as the Mangili? Gourlay’s evocative writing grips from the outset.