'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 20 August 2012

Review: Dingo: The Dog Who Conquered a Continent

Loa is just a bony boy. But he wants to be a man. He soon will be - but he still has much to prove.

When his beloved Leki marries another - stronger, taller, older - man, Loa is determined to prove his worth so he takes an enormous risk by setting out on a canoe to paddle to an outer headland, through crushing coral reefs and overwhelming currents . . . with little more than some bladders filled with water, a spear and . . .

. . . a dog.

A female dog, bound and tied to the bottom of the canoe. Loa had planned to use her as shark or croc bait if he ran into trouble but a sudden storm waylays all best laid plans, and the young lad and his unlikely companion soon find themselves battling a battering before being beached on a massive sandbar, many many miles from home.

As Loa desperately plans his return home, he notices, much to his shock, a landmass to the south. East, west - definitely a possibility of close-by land - but south? This he has never heard of. Driven by thirst, hunger and the uncertainty of travelling northbound to unseen land, Loa makes the decision to take the dog south to the enormous unknown.


Set between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago, Dingo: The Dog Who Conquered a Continent is the sixth book in the Animal Stars series by superb historical fiction writer (as well as many other genres) Jackie French. Like the books before it, Dingo is a phenomenal account of a time long past, with extraordinary detail and intense emotion typical of French's work.

This conjectured but incredibly informed story tells of the quite likely possibility that all Australian dingoes may have been descendent of one pregnant female dog, possibly arrived from Timor. It follows the journey of young Loa from boy to man and his relationship with a wild dog that transcends all likely possibility at the time. It's about survival and new beginnings, yes, but it's also about the extraordinary construction of our country - its flora, fauna and people.

Typical of French's work, the book contains phenomenal detail that adds a feel-like-you're-there richness to the story - and her ability to build aching suspense and emotional connection are unparalleled. Her dedication to book-writing is yet again overwhelmingly thorough - with fascinating author notes at the back of the book, providing extra information on both the dingo and the time the book was set.

The author's recent knee injury even finds a place in the book, with her central character also copping a medial collateral ligament tear. It's more than clear French's descriptions of Loa's pain are authentic! But pain is not all you'll feel reading this book. You'll feel anticipation, fear, fascination and heart-warming love and hope.

Told in the third person with alternating chapters from both Loa's point of view and the dog's point of view, Dingo has it all - adventure, love, puppies! and dramatic action - but most of all it has an inherent and deeply apparent love for the land and people of Australia.

Enter to win a copy of this fabulous book on KBR! 

Title: Dingo: The Dog Who Conquered a Continent
Author: Jackie French
Publisher: Harper Collins, $14.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1 July 2012
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780732293116
For ages: 8 - 14
Type: Junior Fiction, Historical Fiction