BAILLIE, Allan The First Voyage Puffin, 2014 171pp $17.99 pbk+e ISBN 9780143307679 SCIS 1651553
This latest novel by prolific author Allan Baillie, starts serenely on Bird Island around 28,000 BC: the Yam tribe are watching narrator Bent Beak pass the Buffalo Horn to his young peer Shufflewing, in a rite of passage. By the end of this novel, which follows the Yam tribe’s repeated wars with the Crocodile tribe and their subsequent passage by raft to Timor over treacherous seas, I was on the edge of my seat reading. Baillie creates such a sense of danger, fear, adventure and wonder during his imagining of the first voyages of the Aboriginal people, that I found new insight into the perils of those times. The language of the novel is haltingly beautiful and the characters are vividly drawn. Older readers, upper primary and early secondary, will find much to enjoy in The First Voyage.
reviewed by Angie Holst