Category: Junior Fiction
Title: Two Wolves
Author: Tristan Bancks
Pages: 271 pp
Age: 10 – 14 years (Recommended year 6 to year 9)
Australian RRP: $16.99
Dewey number: A823.4
Two Wolves is a gripping and “high-stakes adventure story that will keep you guessing and breathless until the last page.” Michael Gerard Bauer, author of “Don’t Call Me Ishmael” and “Just a Dog”.
This powerful story seems simple on the surface, yet soon the reader is pulled into the world of its main character, Ben Silver and his family, and into some deep undercurrents that don’t necessarily happen in most families. From the very outset, the reader can feel the tension building and it’s not too many pages in when suddenly action ignites and you can’t help but keep turning those pages with your heart racing, in the hope you find out what the heck is going on with Ben’s mother and father. There is definitely something odd going on and the author manages to keep the reader guessing; searching for answers. For Ben and his little sister Olive, it is a nightmare that they wish they could simply wake up from. But that is not going to happen in this powerfully told tale involving cop chases, an unconventional holiday shack and the odd comings and goings of two of the most important people in a youngster’s life, mum and dad. Aren’t parents meant to make you feel safe and secure?
There are many levels and questions associated with this story and as the reader is held hostage under the great penmanship of its author, you can’t help but feel sad for Ben and his little sister and you will be swept away hoping and praying that things turn out okay for them. Even the ending is heart stopping and you are never really left with a sense that everything is going to be alright. You can only stay with this family and find out for yourself.
To unpack and delve further into the techniques and strategies of author, Tristan Bancks, you can find Teaching Resource notes, prepared by Tristan Bancks, Zoe Walton, and Kimberley Bennett here.
Tristan Bancks – Author
Tristan Bancks is a children’s and teen author with a background in acting and filmmaking. He has written a number of titles including: the My Life series (weird-funny-gross short stories featuring Tom Weekly) and Mac Slater, Coolhunter series. His short films as writer and director have won a number of awards and have screened widely in festivals and on TV. Tristan is excited by the future of storytelling and inspiring others to create.
I bought this book when I attended the 2014 Brisbane Writers Festival. I took my Year 6 extension writing students to the festival to participate in Word Play. We attended sessions by authors, Morris Gleitzman, Jackie French, Andy Griffiths and Tristan Bancks.
I find it hard to refrain from spending money on books, be it in a bookstore, marketplace, or writers festival, and this occasion was no different. I bought several titles by the authors mentioned above and looked forward to curling up in a comfy corner at home and devouring them.
I enjoyed Two Wolves from the very first page, well, actually before the first page. The quote at the very beginning of the book intrigued me. What quote you ask? Oh, I haven’t mentioned the quote yet, have I? Sorry about that. Well, here it is:
An old man tells his grandson one evening that there is a battle raging inside him, inside all of us.
A terrible battle between two wolves.
One wolf is bad — pride, envy, jealousy, greed, guilt, self-pity.
The other wolf is good — kindness, hope, love, service, truth, humility
The child asks, “Who will win?”
The grandfather answers simply,
“The one you feed.”
After spending almost an hour in the Word Play session with my Year 6 writers and Tristan Bancks, I didn’t have a hope of leaving the festival without Two Wolves tucked away inside my backpack. I was sold. The quote was displayed on a large screen, for part of the time, behind Tristan as he spoke. It was quite a deep and meaningful quote that was associated with the book he was promoting, Two Wolves, and it hooked me.
The book was a real page turner with a hook at the end of every chapter. Each chapter was action-packed and thrilling and had me feeling quite tense for Ben and Olive Silver. My heart broke a number of times for these two ‘lost’ children and I longed for things to be different for them. I’d take them home myself, and adopt them if I could.
The book flowed well, was easy to digest and I’m sure most 10+ readers would find the level of language suitable for their reading range. The way the book was sectioned worked well for me and I found the author’s hints of what’s to come throughout each chapter enticed and urged me to keep turning the pages. This novel explored the complexities of life, especially using a most unusual event in the lives of Ben and Olive’s family to explore family relationships at their most extreme. The author addressed a number of topics at different levels that left me thinking and trying to figure things out. Children would find this book difficult to put down without thinking about the events they’d just read about and I feel fairly confident that many would feel the need to discuss the events with other students or adults, hence why the teaching resources would be most useful.
I also think this story and the way it is told could be used as a springboard into conversations about dramatic events that happen in real life families and other ways we can learn to deal with unusual situations.
Some children will breeze through the story and take it on face value, while others may find a need to debrief. Having said that, this book is a great read and will promote thinking and possibly instil a feeling of gratitude that they come from a ‘normal’ family (in the majority of cases, you would hope).
RATING: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Click here for the official YouTube trailer for Two Wolves