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Kit's Wilderness

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Cover of Kit's Wilderness

Author: David Almond

Publisher: Hodder

Published in: 1999

Age Range: Young Teens

Period: Contemporary

Setting: Stoneygate mining town


Characters:

  • Kit Watson a 13 year old, easily influenced boy tells the story, joins a club whose members must "die" and be "reincarnated".
  • John Askew a 13 year old misfit who befriends Kit and encourages him to join the club.
  • Allie: A vivacious and lively member of the club whom Kit takes a liking to.

Synopsis:

13 year old Kit Watson has moved back to his ancestral town of Stoneygate, an old mining town in northern England. His Grandmother is dead and Kit's parents want his Grandfather's last years to be happy. The Grandfather was born and raised in Stoneygate and had worked in the old mines of the town, it is the only place where he feels at home and he wants to die there.

Kit being a “new kid” struggles to make new friends at a school where he does not know anybody, he manages to make friends with a gang of misfits whose leader is the frightening “weirdo” John Askew. He is encouraged to attend nocturnal meetings in the seemingly haunted mines of the town. At first Kit is reluctant and afraid but he eventually succumbs to the peer pressure and the natural allure of the mines.

In the mine they smoke cigarettes and play the terrifying game of death. A the story unfolds frightening facts about Kit and John Askew come to light.

Notes:

The book does a very good balancing act, there is wonderful dialogue between all the main characters and an interesting plot full of excitement and action is maintained to the fullest extent. The characters that appear in the book, with the exception of Kit's parents, are all very round, well developed and above all credible.

The book also contains very strong messages about peer pressure. When Kit takes drags of the cigarettes it is made clear that he does not like it and he only smokes to fit in with the rest of the gang. Similarly it is John Askew who puts Kit under a lot of pressure to join the nocturnal meetings of the gang.

There is also a strong message about the importance of family in the book. Kit has a very strong relationship with his Grandfather and feels that he can confide in him, while Askew comes from a broken family (his parents are very abusive) and has no one to turn to so he becomes very bitter and twisted. Some may be concerned about the meetings that Kit and his friends attend, they are clearly meant to be some kind of séance, however it is made clear at the end of the book how dangerous it is to dabble in these things.

On the downside, the game in the mines is a game of death, and the gaping entrance to the darkness of the mines stands in a way for the passage from life to death.

“Whose turn is it to die?” he whispered.“Death,” we all chanted. “Death Death Death Death...”The knife shimmered, spinning. It spun on and on. Me, I thought, as it spun to me and then away again. Me, not me, me, not me, me, not me... And then it slowed and came to rest. Me.

Wednesday 23rd July 2003