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A double Taste Of Adventure

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

By Ian Boyd and Gary Luck

Published by Spirit of the Earth Books

November 2022

Cover art and design by Mandy Foot

ISBN 9780648905745

Ages 8-12

Themes: Bushfires, the environment, bullying, friendship, resilience

The Last Firedog is the new eco-fantasy novel by Ian Boyd and Gary Luck, following the popular release of Melody Finch in 2020. For ages 8+ this is a highly recommended follow-up as it has something to hook every reader.

This second novel follows bullied but resourceful young cricketer, Reynold, who suddenly becomes a Tasmanian devil when a terrifying bushfire breaks out in his parents’ devil refuge. He must make fast decisions and juggle competing priorities to survive and get home safely. These priorities include saving another devil who is vital for the eradication of a terrible cancer, helping other animals escape the fire, fulfilling the dying wish of a mother quoll, and unravelling the mystery of the mythical firedog, all while navigating new and old relationships.

The story runs at a cracking pace with plenty of humour along with a cast of great characters (both human and animal). During the adventure we learn interesting information about bushfires, the environment, and a huge variety of Tasmanian wildlife. We also learn about friendships, family, and love, as well as resilience, bravery and doing the right thing even when it's tough.

A fun, engaging read to share with all the young people in your life.

Reviewed by Kylie Grant


By Ian Boyd

Published by Spirit of the Earth Books

November 2022

ISBN 9780648905721

Ages 9-12

Highly recommended

Themes: Loss, Grief, Families, Relationships, Racism, Anger, Bullying, Diversity, Friendship, Hope

How does a young child deal with the death of a sibling? Ten-year-old Liam has lost his beloved older brother, Peter, to a long, drawn-out illness, and his family is slowly crumbling. His Dad is angry and at times frightening, and his Mum is just plain heartbroken.

Liam and younger sister, Tilly, are trying to make sense of their loss but are adrift without the support of their trusted adults. They escape the house to spend time on the frog bridge watching the tadpoles change and they both become attached to Fatso, the largest frog. After reading Peter’s notebook, Liam is convinced that Fatso is Peter reincarnated. He feels a strong connection with the frog as it inhabits a creek under the bridge that was so special to Peter and Liam. He is determined to protect the bridge at all costs.

As well as trying to survive each day, Liam is thrust into an unwanted companionship with Mahdi whom he calls Muddy. Muddy has arrived with his sister, Sapidah, from Afghanistan under terrible circumstances. He does not speak, is impulsive and deeply disturbed. The two boys are mercilessly bullied and when more confrontation occurs there is a terrible consequence.

The wonderful descriptive language used throughout the story will transport the reader to Liam’s backyard and the surrounding environment. The grief and loss suffered by all of the characters is profoundly felt and will stay long after this story is finished. Nevertheless, there is hope that the cracks will begin to heal and that the power of friendship will enable a new story to begin.

Reviewed by Kathryn Beilby


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