I have been reserving a number of books from our local library and reading them in a quest to try and find a good selection of books for ages 10+ (it is a bit of a work in progress) but this one – Warrior Boy written by Virginia Clay – has been a complete joy. I loved it and I have already recommended it for both of my kids to read.
Ben is a twelve year old mixed race boy living in London. His mother is a a documentary maker and his father was a Maasai Warrior who died before Ben was even born. The story starts off with Ben in London and it is clear he is struggling to feel like he belongs and the fact that he just fainted in class due to his blood phobia makes him feel even less like he wants to be in London. He has never been to Kenya and does not know his Maasai family.
His mother gets an assignment to go back to Kenya to film some elephants in an attempt to highlight the poaching that is occurring, she would be based in a camp next to the tribal land of Ben’s Maasai family so reluctantly she agrees that Ben can accompany her and finally meet his “other family”. Right from the beginning of Ben meeting his Maasai family I was impressed with the way they were depicted, the writer never belittles their customs or makes them seem inferior to the Western ways (something I really appreciated). Ben finds out that his blood phobia runs in the Maasai family and he goes on a quest of sorts (7 challenges) with his grandfather and cousin.
I do not want to go into too much detail, there is an interesting climax to the story when some poachers threaten Ben’s family (it all works out well, no-one dies). But the author really impressed me with the way she writes about his Maasai family, his cousin Kip is engaging and fill of life while his grandfather, although an old tribal man, is actually the one who gets Ben to discover his strength and confidence. I liked that the Maasai family were such a significant force is helping Ben mature and that it was actually their old ways and old customs that helped Ben become braver.
It is a beautifully written story with engaging, full characters (I loved watching the relationship between Ben and his cousin develop and also see how Ben grew over time to understand his grandfather and his uncle). The descriptions of Kenya and the tribal customs are positive and show that the old ways can still have a place in the modern world.
I think this is an excellent story for kids in the 10-13 years bracket. For me, a good story takes you out of your home and places you in a different world, where you learn about a different way of life, different people and events and this is what this story did. It really transports you to Kenya and by the end of the story you feel like you understand the Maasai way of life a bit better than you did before.
We got our copy of Warrior Boy from our local library but you can also get a copy direct from Amazon Warrior Boy
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