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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Review: Tiger Wars by Steve Backshall

Gripping adventure with bonus learning for 9+ 

I would have loved this as a child! (I loved it as an adult reader, in fact). Packed with thrilling adventure and danger, cleverly underscored with lots of information on wildlife, geography and culture.

The story here revolves around two young main characters: Saker, a boy on the run from a mysterious group known as The Clan, and Sinter, an Indian girl fleeing from an arranged marriage to an older man. Their paths collide and they find themselves as quite unlikely partners working together to save the tigers that Saker was supposed to capture.

The real skill is this book is in its efficient combination of excitement and information. I learnt loads from reading this book - always a gift - and at no point did I feel that the story had stalled to share information with the reader. I was also impressed at the breadth of that knowledge and information - not just on wildlife and conservation (although there is of course plenty of that), but also the kind of geographical and cultural knowledge that only comes from extensive travel with an open attitude.

It promises to be a very boy-friendly series, but that's absolutely not to say that girls won't love them too. I know plenty of 8-10 yr old girls who are big Deadly 60 fans, and Sinter sharing the lead role with Saker will definitely increase the appeal to girls as well. The plot may be a little far-fetched, but good stories (especially for children, who can have so few adventures these days) often are and its rootedness in reality certainly helps to counteract this, as do its well-drawn and emotionally realistic characters.

Overall, I am definitely recommending this, and watch out for the second title in the series - Ghosts of the Forests (on Orang Utans! Yay!) - out next month.

From the Back Cover:

Deadly Adversaries. An Impossible Mission. Tiger Wars.

Saker is on the run from the only life he knows. From India to the Himalayas and China he'll be pursued by hunting dogs, mercenaries, spies, thieves and assassins in his quest to set free the most majestic, lethal and valuable of all the predators - the tiger.

"Saker's story comes from my imagination, but is set in the very real wild world I know from my expeditions. I've tried to fill Tiger Wards with intrigue, danger, adventure, exotic wildlife and dramatic locations. I hope I've made these things come to life, and that you enjoy reading the book as much as I've enjoyed writing it."

Paperback version published May 9 2013 by Orion Children's Books
For more information and more Steve Backshall's books see the publisher's website
My grateful thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy

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