Off the Track (Cristy Burne, illus by Amanda Burnett, Fremantle Press)
Cristy Burne’s latest work of adventure fiction takes us off the beaten track and deep into the Australian bush. Harry isn’t thrilled about spending a weekend hiking with his mum, her old friend Ana, and Ana’s daughter Deepika, especially when he finds out that it means leaving his most prized possessions behind, including his mobile phone. But this hiking trip turns out to be quite an adventure as he is forced out of his comfort zone and faced with very real challenges. Off the Track is filled with facts about the bush, exploring both its wonder and danger, and stressing the importance of being prepared and not taking anything for granted. It also explores our dependence on technology—younger and older generations alike—and looks at the pressures of being constantly connected and how that can cut us off from the people we’re closest to, despite its many benefits. Burne’s writing has an energy that is infectious, and the short chapters, sentence structure and pace will make the story manageable for early readers. The text is complemented by Amanda Burnett’s illustrations, which bring the outdoor setting to life on the page. Suitable for readers aged seven and up, Off the Track will appeal to curious young readers who love adventure, and is perfect for fans of Burne’s previous title To the Lighthouse and Samantha Wheeler’s fiction. Complete with teaching notes, it also makes a valuable classroom resource.
Maria H Alessandrino is a Perth based writer and freelance reviewer