It’s not often that I feature books on the blog that were originally written in English, but while I was browsing a publisher catalogue a while back, I noticed something one of my little helpers was likely to be interested in. You see, young Hayley had enjoyed one of her library books so much that she asked her mum to buy her the sequel, so when I saw that Allen & Unwin were about to bring out a third book in the series, I just had to reach out and ask for a copy. I was very happy when one turned up in the post – but not as happy as Hayley 😉
What’s the name of the book, and who is it by?
The book is called Wolf Girl 3: The Secret Cave, and it’s written by Anh Do and illustrated by Lachlan Creagh.
What’s it about?
It’s about a girl called Gwen who wants to find her parents. She lost them when a war started, and she lived in the wild with some dogs, an eagle and a wolf! In this book, she escaped from a prison, and then she was chased by some soldiers. Unfortunately, one of her dogs called Zip was hurt, so the pack was slow, and that means they are in danger again…
Did you like it? Why (not)?
Yes, because it was full of action, and Gwen and her pack had to work together. I like Gwen, but I love the dogs, too 🙂
What was your favourite part?
I’d probably say when they went underground into a cave and raced around on a mining cart – and went underwater!
Was it difficult to read?
No, the writing was big, and it was easy to read.
Would you recommend this book to other boys and girls? Why (not)?
Of course, because it’s a really exciting story!!!
Hayley, thank you very much 🙂
Anh Do is a multi-talented Australian who has turned his hand to many different activities over the past decade or so. I first knew him as a stand-up comedian, but he’s also an actor and a talented artist, with his writing career just the latest of his ventures. While he’s best known to adult audiences for his autobiography, The Happiest Refugee, which won a number of awards back in 2011, most of his writing has been for children, and books from his WeirDo series can be found in school libraries and bookshops here in Australia.
As Hayley mentioned, the Wolf Girl series is the story of Gwen, a girl who is separated from her family when some sort of war breaks out at the start of the first book, Into the Wild. The second part, The Great Escape, sees her new animal friends helping her after a run-in with some soldiers, and The Secret Cave picks up where the previous book left off, with the pack, including Gwen’s new friend Rupert, fleeing the approaching soldiers:
As we approached a bend, I heard the soldiers burst out of the forest behind us.
“There!” shrieked Fran, her voice angry. “Don’t let them get away!”
As bullets flew, we tore around the bend. Ahead, I saw what Eagle had been leading us to… A bridge!
p.6 (Allen & Unwin, 2020)
This is just the start of another series of adventures, but this time Gwen will be getting help from friends with both four *and* two legs 😉
The premise of Wolf Girl is set up very quickly, and Do doesn’t waste any time, or energy, on explaining any of the background, in the way you might expect in a YA novel, for instance. It’s very clear here that there are bad soldiers and good people (and animals), and Gwen and her pack have just two objectives – to stay safe and to find the rest of her family.
The books are all well designed for younger independent readers. Hayley talked about the large type above, and with Creagh’s illustrations adorning most pages (as was the case with Jeremy Ley’s work in the first two books), these are stories that children will enjoy reading. In addition, my girls both love books with strong female protagonists, and Gwen certainly fits that description, never short of an idea whether she’s roaming the woods or trying to avoid the soldiers underground.
Of course, it’s always best to start at the beginning, so if Wolf Girl sounds like a series your kids might enjoy, I’d definitely recommend going back to the first part to see how it all begins. Meanwhile, Hayley’s happy that she now has the full set (she persuaded us to buy the first book to complete her collection) and is looking forward to the next one…
…and funnily enough, there’s a notice at the end of the book proclaiming that the fourth part is coming soon. Kids get all the luck 😦