Dingo is a carefully considered narrative littered with gorgeous, keenly felt descriptions. Jackie French brings us an imaginative narrative based on her speculation of how the dingo first arrived on the Australian mainland many, many years ago. Dingo is Book Six in the Animal Stars Series.
Jackie’s fictional account ensues when an older boy, almost but not quite a fully fledged hunter, decides on a whim to runaway from his clan in order to prove his worth. By the time he calms down enough to rethink his impulsive decision it is too late to turn back. Impossible in fact. His tree canoe and unseasonably strong winds blow him off course and in to a strange land – the smells, the trees are all different. Scariest of all – no people to be seen. Growing up in to the man he yearned to be is now no longer simply an option, but a necessity for survival.
In scenes that Bear Grylls would be proud of the boy utilises the knowledges he has been fed throughout his young years to fight for his survival in a strange land. Listening to the land, locating food sources and learning the seasons he pushes through to carve out an existence for himself … and the dog.
The dog? A last minute decision to throw her into his canoe for two possible reasons – food or bait. Told in alternating narratives of both ‘the boy’ and ‘the dog’ French acutely captures their growing relationship. Bonds of trust and respect emerge which echo the quintessential ‘man and his dog’ relationship that we accept and nurture today.
It is this relationship which is truly at the core of French’s novel. Its growth and development is captured without excessive sentimentality but with a considered hand, careful characterisation and elegant descriptions.
The lyrical flow of the narrative will add value to any young reader’s reading journey, whilst widening their horizon to consider a multitude of possibilities … what if?…
Eight pages under the heading ‘Author’s Notes’ at the close of the novel ground the fictional account in to reality. French provides factual evidence for her speculative work, sure to prompt young minds in to exploring these possibilities for themselves.
The plethora of information she relays here is a fitting end. It is perfect for those who upon reaching the end of a great novel, just need that little bit more.