Review Blog

Jul 20 2015

Thirst by Lizzie Wilcock

cover image

Scholastic Australia, 2015. ISBN 9781742839660
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Survival. Australian outback. Foster care. When the car that is taking Karanda and 8 year old Solomon to their next foster home crashes in Central Australia, and their social worker is killed, Karanda is determined to be free of the foster care system that she believes has been terrible for her. With just her backpack and a bottle of water, she sets off into the desert to escape her old life, the misery and the mistakes she has made. There is only thing holding her back - Solomon, the solemn kid who has barely said a word to anyone. When she discovers that he has followed her, she decides that his survival skills are important to keep them alive and together they trek across the desert.
I was immediately reminded of Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, and thought that this would be a great companion novel to that popular classic. Instead of facing the Canadian wilderness where water was plentiful, Karanda and Solomon face the Australian desert, where water is scarce and precious, and food is virtually impossible to find. Fortunately Solomon has been a great fan of the TV show, The Bush Tucker Man, and is able to find and identify some native food sources for them and their struggle to survive makes for fascinating reading. A quick Google search will bring up reports of survival in the desert, so their feat doesn't seem to be too implausible and the reader is carried along by their adventures.
Equally engrossing are the personal stories that gradually come to light as the reader gets to know the characters. The foster care system hasn't worked for these two children who have suffered devastating personal loss. The themes of the importance of being loved and belonging to a family and having friends loom large in this book, as do the inadequacies of the foster care system and the children's lack of ability to communicate their needs to their foster parents.
Karanda's growth as a person and her gradual understanding of the impact of what she says to Solomon is also central to the story. I loved the dialogue, especially the nicknames that Karanda gives Solomon: 'fire boy' when he makes a fire, 'fall boy' when he falls down a cliff, and other humorous tags.
I read this book in one sitting and I am of the opinion that younger readers would find it very engrossing. Teacher notes are available.
Pat Pledger

BUY IT NOW ON booktopia
Archived Blog Entries
Latest News
International Children's Book Day 2nd April, 2017
CILIP Kate Greenaway Medals 2017 longlist
CILIP Carnegie Medal longlist 2017
Branford Boase Award 2017 longlist
Children's Book Award 2017 shortlist
Infographic: Teen reading habits
Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2017
Newbery and Caldecott Medals 2017
ALA awards 2017
Costa Children's Book Award 2016
National Simultaneous Storytime 2017

ReadPlus Features
Print similar authors bookmark
Read similar authors
How to find lesson plans
Sample theme animation

Promote Reading
Staff holiday reading list 2016
South Australian Christian Schools Conference 2016 - Library Displays
Display calendars
Science fiction and fantasy lists SAETA conference 2015
Value of School Libraries
Library, Reading development and the Internet
Free Rights of the Reader Poster
Reviews: Author index
Books for boys
Bookmark and poster templates