Two Wolves is my latest read for the CBCA 2015 Shortlist (it is shortlisted for the Younger Readers Shortlist). Sadly I've been a bit slow to become aware of Tristan Bancks. But then I've never seen a single episode of Home and Away, and so had never seen him as an actor. I had seen some of his earlier books around but never read any. I've been aware of Two Wolves since last year, I'd even bought it, and I'm glad to have finally had the chance to read Two Wolves.
Two Wolves is an exciting adventure story. Thirteen year old Ben Silver is unfit, and eats slightly too many jam doughnuts. Ben lives a rather small life in suburban life in Sydney with his family- his parents and his young sister Olive. He makes stop motion movies in his bedroom on an old video camera.
Ben took a bite from a microwaved jam doughnut. The jam was lava on his tongue and he dropped the doughnut onto the plate. The floor around him was littered with clothes, shoes, a game console, two controllers, a bike wheel with no tyre, a skateboard deck, schoolbooks, soccer boots, a jumbo-size packet of chips and plates from long-forgotten afternoon snacks. Ben's favourite place.
One afternoon the police come knocking on the front door and Ben's life changes forever in an instant. His parents arrive home soon after and the family rapidly leave their home for their first ever family holiday.
Ben can't take anything for granted anymore. His life has become a quest for survival.
Life had always seemed hard at home. He had to walk to school and he only got to order lunch once a week and he had to wash the dishes sometimes and put the bins out and feed the dog every day and shower and remember to brush his teeth. He only got eight dollars pocket money and he had to eat potatoes for dinner even though he didn't like potatoes, except when they were in chip form.
I nearly laughed out loud at that paragraph, I've discussed all of that with Master Wicker. A child's view of first world problems. I really enjoyed the writing, it almost seemed first person at times, which is a great compliment coming from me.
There were about twenty passengers. Most of them looked broken in some way, Ben thought. They wore the scars of hard lives in their faces and in the way they sat. When Ben was little, he hadn't known that people could become broken. Toys and plates and windows, he knew, but not people. Now he knew they could.
I was surprised and pleased by quite a few references to Jean Craighead George's classic My Side of the Mountain (see my 2012 review). Ben finds a copy of it and eventually reads it. It all makes sense now that I see Tristan Bancks includes My Side of the Mountain in his Top 10 Middle Grade Reads. Tristan has a great website, do check it out, including a great page on 10 Ways to Inspire Kids to Read- where he references 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up! Cycle of life. Perfect.
He also has a super interesting Two Wolves Vision Board where he outlines images he used to create the mood, influences on the themes and story and even the music he was listening to whilst writing the book.
Two Wolves will be published in America as On The Run in November 2015.