This a strong and promising tale of adventure from a new author.
The book opens with powerful cinematic descriptions of a life-changing event, which succinctly transitions into learning about the protagonist Luis. The balance between detail and pace is difficult, but Latham is able to introduce it in his very opening chapter, as well as sustaining it-an even more difficult and noteworthy skill.
The Colombian setting has clearly been researched with sensitivity and Latham again performs a balancing act-both appreciating the beauty of a place and its issues. The book deals with sometimes heavy themes such as deforestation and the drug trade. However I agree with the choice to include such real problems in a non-patronising manner. The book is aimed at 11 year olds and up, but I think it would be appropriate for a few years younger as long as they had the maturity to appreciate a lens into another way of life. The short chapters lend the book to being read aloud if any parent chooses to read and discuss such themes from a childhood perspective.
A common image in the book is that of the relationship between the book's characters and the natural world which surrounds them. Often there are blurred lines between the human and animal worlds and Latham's dexterity with humanisation and animalisation demonstrates the potential of this writer.
In conclusion, Hunting the Bushbird by John Latham is a fast-paced, refreshing book whose remoteness of location and lack of technology provides escapism and is a nod to the classic legacy of adventure stories. The novel concludes with both peril, hope, and sufficient mystery to leave me waiting for the sequel.
by Kay Stewart