Troubador Hunting the Bushbird

Released: 28/10/2019

ISBN: 9781838590840

Format: Paperback

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Hunting the Bushbird

by

A young boy witnesses the abduction of his parents and the destruction of his family home. Can he find out the truth about their disappearance and their ultimate fate... and can he discover the identities of the men with the strange tattoo on their wrists?

Nine-year-old Luis Montero lives on the edge of the Colombian rainforest in the shadow of the Andes Mountains. The brutal attack on his family leaves him alone with only his pet dog, Maya, for support. Together, the pair set out on a quest for answers.  Why would these men want to destroy his family and what is the significance of the silver key handed to Luis by his father, moments before he was taken?

As the dramatic events unfold, Luis must uncover secrets from his father’s past and escape the very real danger that surrounds him on his search. Will he find the truth and solve the mystery... before time runs out?

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


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