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

Wednesday 26 December 2018

Review: The First Voyage

Thirty thousand years ago, on the island of Timor (known then as Bird island), a small group of people struggled to survive under the Crocodile clan's fierce attacks.

These members of the Yam clan had done nothing to aggravate the Crocodiles but that didn't help. Despite moving away, the Crocodiles were intent on hunting them down.

There was no option left but the sea. Without knowing they would find land for sure, the Yam clan put all their faith in a few small birds whose path they followed.

So began the first ever boat journey by people seeking refuge from murderous neighbours. Even after 30,000 years, the essence of the refugee story is unchanged.

Allan Baillie has a gritty way with words. He let me feel sand in my eyes, mud squelch between my toes and the pure dread that comes with facing towering waves in darkness on a raft of loosely tied bamboo poles.

Even though I knew our first Australian immigrants made it to  north Australian shores, it was hard to believe our first pioneers were this mostly lot.

Especially when beloved characters didn't survive.

I clenched on many occasions, hoping the Yam clan would find a way to work together enough to see it through.

The First Voyage is an absolute Middle Grade classic. It is one historical fiction I will return to, simply for the pure joy of reliving those heart pumping moments.

Title: The First Voyage
Author: Allan Baillie
Publisher: Puffin Books, $17.99
Publication Date: 26 February 2014
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780143307679
For ages: 9 years +
Type: Middle Grade Fiction