THE BOY WITH THE BRONZE AXE
by KATHLEEN FIDLER
Reviewed by Miss Huddy
RECOMMEND YEAR GROUP: Y3/4
INTERESTS: Stone Age, historical fiction, adventure
THEMES: friendship, family, loyalty, jealousy, revenge, teamwork, perseverance and leadership
MY THOUGHTS: Thoroughly enjoyable read linked to the topic of the Stone Age.
The setting for this story is the real-life Stone Age village of Skara Brae. The foreword reveals how “in the winter of 1850 a terrible storm struck the coasts of the Orkney Isles…[washing] away part of the high sand dunes that fringed the Bay of Skaill and laid bare the ruins of some ancient dwellings”.
Kathleen Fidler’s story imagines the adventures of two children who lived in Skara Brae over three thousand year ago. The daily life and rituals of the inhabitants of this ancient village are lightly woven into an entertaining series of chapters. The novel begins with sister and brother Kali and Brocken disobeying a warning not to go and collect limpets and crabs from the rock furthest from the shore. Inevitably they become trapped by the incoming tide and are rescued by a mysterious stranger carrying a strangely sharp axe. Initially the villagers are suspicious of the stranger, a boy called Tenko, but he soon becomes accepted by most villagers.
Most chapters are self-contained stories such as describing the day Tenko saves the village sheep from an eagle, or how another village boy who is jealous of Tenko tries to enact revenge. Most stories have the right level of interest and suspense for this age group. In addition they also impart a lot of information about what living in the Neolithic Stone Age would have been like. Overall an enjoyable class read linked to topic.
Warning – Chapter 6 ‘The Day of the Whale’ is a bit gory and may upset some children as it describes a whale being trapped and killed, but you could miss this chapter out and the rest of the book would still make sense.