Top review: Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr

Canadian-born Australian writer Wendy Orr is the author of Nim’s Island, which was adapted into a movie in 2008 that stared Jodie Foster and Gerard Butler. Dragonfly Song is reviewed in our October issue by our resident young-readers expert, Wendy Noble.

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Poor Aissa. Her life is one tragic decision and sad rejection after another, just because she wasn’t born perfect. But then, who is? If it weren’t for the kindness of an old woman, who gave her away instead of killing her, and a grieving mother who accepted the unwanted child, her story would have ended almost as soon as it had started. But considering that she lives in the servants quarters in the Great Hall, there are times when she must wish that the original plan for her death had been carried out.

When the men who serve the Bull King come for the annual tribute, Aissa decides that this is her chance to get away. She doesn’t know what `dancing with the bulls’ means, but it has to be better than living in a hole in the hill, rejected and hated by everyone.

This extraordinary story is set in the Bronze Age at the time of the Minoan civilisation, which was renowned for its worship of bulls and for the mysterious legend of the labyrinth and the Minotaur. Magic appears throughout the tale, which is narrated by a little girl. And what a tenacious, feisty, clever little girl she is! When Aissa goes to the court of the Bull King, there is no doubt that she will be a winner. This exhilarating, nail-biting and inspiring story lingers in the imagination long after the book is finished.

Dragonfly Song is published by Allen & Unwin, age guide 9+. Read an excerpt here

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