Wolfchild

$14.95 inc. GST

Book One – A Year and a Day

by: Rosanne Hawke

110 pages
129mm x 198mm
ISBN: 9780648030515

SKU: 9780648030515 Category:

Description

Morwenna has risked the ire and safety of her village by befriending a wolfchild. Set in the land of Lyonnesse in the year 1099, Wolfchild is the story of Morwenna who meets a wolf and a forbidden stranger, the wild boy, Raw. Despite the rumours, Morwenna believes that Raw is neither dangerous, nor a wolfchild. But visions and portents of impending catastrophe suggest time is running out for her to unravel the mystery of who Raw really is. And why does he have to stay hidden for a year and a day?

About the author

Rosanne Hawke is an award winning children’s author who lives in Kapunda, South Australia. She has written over twenty-five books for young people including Kelsey and the Quest of the Porcelain Doll (a CBCA Notable Book), Across the Creek, (winner of the Cornish 2005 Holyer an Gof Award for Children’s Literature) and Taj and the Great Camel Trek (2012 Adelaide Festival Children’s Book Award). She is the recipient of the 2015 Nance Donkin Award. Rosanne is an adjunct lecturer in Creative Writing at Tabor Adelaide and is a Bard of Cornwall.

For more information go to: www.rosannehawke.com

Awards

  • Shortlisted for the Australian Aurealis Awards
  • Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book
  • Commended in the Cornish Holyer an Gof award
  • A winner in the Kanga Awards Focus List

Extract

November 1098

1

She first saw the wolf in the half-light of evening. Dusk had settled down through a crimson sky, the mist already curling in from the sea, drifting through the branches overhead. Morwenna was singing for the last hens in the woods to come when she caught a movement to her right, across the stream. A streak of grey. At first she thought it was a trick of the light but there it was again, a flicker between the trees, a tail testing the air.

The wolf had stopped and was standing, watching the water. It was that stillness, with his ears forward as if he wished to cross, which took away her first tremor of fear. She made herself step closer. His head rose, immediately aware of her. How long did they stand like that on each side of the water, motionless, his gaze holding hers, his one front leg behind the other, ready to move? Was that yearning she saw? Or wariness?

Morwenna realised she was not so afraid now and it was she who broke the spell; gently her foot touched the first stone in the stream. It was too much. He lowered his head, stepped backwards, and circled once as if in a dance. It was then she noticed the limp, but when she blinked he was gone. Only his wild dog-smell lingered.

Later, after she’d led the hens into their shelter with her singing, she heard the howling above the wind. He had looked thin, shaggy. That year the harvest had not been good. Morwenna knew that even the wild places were affected when the weather was cruel. It brought hunger closer to the hamlet so they could all suffer together. Then she smiled. She had heard wolves were ferocious monsters to be feared, but now she’d seen this one close up she knew that the stories might not always be true.

2

‘Wen-na!’ Among the sounds of everyone getting ready for the evening, she heard Eva, her mother, calling. Morwenna rushed under the great oak into their cottage. Already the smoke from the fire hung below the beams, the smell of the burning wood mingling with what was in the pot.

‘Help your grand-mam, Wenna. The loom has to be put away before the men come in.’

‘Is Talan coming then? Is it fish he is bringing?’

‘Too many questions, child.’ Morwenna’s grandmother, Eselda, was folding down the boom of the loom. ‘You should have come before. How long does it take a maid to find hens? When I was your age, I would have found the pigs too in that time and brought in eggs and weeded the garden.’

Morwenna bit back her reply when she saw her mother’s slight smile. ‘Yes, Eselda,’ was all she said and together they carried the loom across the grass strewn floor to the storeroom of the cottage. Loveday gave a low murmur as she whisked her tail. Eva had put the cow in the byre already. The loom used to be shared between Eva and Talan’s wife. Now it was wholly Eva’s.

‘You’ve done a lot today.’ Morwenna ran her fingers over the coarse wool. She wondered who the cloth would be for. Knowing her mother, it’d do for all of them in some way. Cadan, her father, said Eva could make an apple give up four halves instead of two.

‘Go, stir the pot, Wenna.’ Eva began to pour the ale she’d brewed.

Morwenna shooed the cat away from the fire and gripped the spoon. She watched it turn round and round in the great black pot. Soaked beans and peas bounced over its wooden back as she stirred. Pottage. The cat crept closer, his tail caressing Morwenna’s ankle. He was like a shadow, all black except for his toes and a moon shape between his eyes. ‘Keep away, Du. Besides, you won’t like this today. There’s no meat in it.’ Always they had pottage, bread and cheese except when something special was about to happen, like a holy day. She stirred faster, careful not to get her tunic in the fire. At least when her uncle Talan came it felt like a holy day.

‘When will Talan come?’ she asked as her mother came in from the byre, shutting the door against the wind.

‘When he’s finished with his nets and cleaned the fish, I expect.’ Eva put a wooden plate of garlic in front of Eselda who began to peel the tiny cloves. Morwenna wondered if she would grow old like Eselda. Doing all the little chores, not gardening or helping in the fields any more. Then Morwenna frowned as she caught Eselda’s eagle-like gaze.

‘Don’t let the pottage catch, child,’ she warned. Morwenna stirred harder.

3

The men were late coming in. Morwenna had pulled the shutters closed and Eselda grumbled that she could have done more weaving. When Morwenna heard a hound bark and Talan’s voice outside, she ran to the door.

‘How’s my white sea bird?’ Talan always called her that because of her name. He didn’t have children; his wife died on the birthing bed over a year ago and in some ways Wenna wasn’t too sorry about it. Eselda said he spoiled her, but tonight, Talan didn’t have time for Morwenna. All through the pottage and dark bread she’d helped to cut, Cadan and Talan murmured quietly while Eva watched them with a frown. Eselda seemed to know what her sons were discussing and as usual had something to add.

‘We only have a year left of this century. It’ll be the end of the world, you’ll see. The bad harvests, and that fading star in the sky last year. It was a sign. The wreck on the beach yesterday. And there’ll be more bad weather tonight.’

Talan stared at her as though he knew what she would say next.

‘Red sky this morning,’ she said firmly. ‘The wind’s up already, isn’t it?’

‘Aye,’ said Cadan, who, unlike Eselda, only said what was necessary. ‘Two of us it took to tie up the boat.’

Morwenna watched her elders. When would it stop? This wind – the rain? Sometimes the sun shone through but it was never for long. In August it rained so much they couldn’t get in all the harvest. In September some wheat was left, but most of it was ruined. Even Lew of Trevelyan didn’t have a good harvest and he had many helpers. Some of Cadan’s lower-lying land was bog all the time now. And it was as if he was taking on the character of the weather. Morwenna hardly saw him laugh any more. Tonight even Talan was subdued.

‘There’s talk in Tregva that there’s a wild child loose up near the stones. Peran the Miller saw a glimpse of him. Screeching like the devil, he was.’ Talan said this between sips of his ale.

Morwenna’s eyes grew huge in the firelight. Nothing so exciting had ever happened close to their hamlet. And a wolf as well. But she didn’t tell about the wolf. ‘What sort of wild child?’ she asked.

Cadan asked Talan another question as if he didn’t hear her. ‘A wolfchild? I’ve heard tell of them.’

‘Maybe,’ Talan murmured.

‘’Tis another sign,’ Eselda said. ‘If it is a true wolfchild, it must be left alone. No one should let the devil close.’

‘What is a wolfchild?’ Morwenna asked.

‘There is a story,’ began her father, and they all moved their stools closer to the fire. ‘Once there was a wolf who found two human children – boys. They mewed just like her pups and she let them suckle with her own litter. When danger threatened she protected them. Trained them to hunt and eat small animals. By the time the children were eight, they could run on their hands and feet like wolves and howl. They ran with the pack, as best they could, and looked after the new pups.’

‘What happened to them?’ Morwenna asked.

‘They were captured by men, but even though they built a great city, they were never tamed. One killed his brother.’

Later, after prayers, and on her straw-filled mattress in the loft, Morwenna wondered about wolves and wild boys. Maybe some of the stories were true – she thought a wolf might be kind enough to feed a child.

Reviews

  1. A robust, upbeat but somehow haunting tale extrapolated from the Cornish legend of the lost land of Lyonesse.

  2. Wolfchild is a vivid and beautiful story, carefully researched
    and crafted. A delightful historical fantasy.

  3. Excellent historical fantasy. Inspired by the Cornish legend of
    Lyonnesse, Wolfchild is vividly portrayed and a delight to read.

  4. Wolfchild offers a welcome relief from books for this age group
    determined only to use current jargons and idioms and speeded
    up shock effects.

  5. … a compelling tale is Rosanne Hawke’s poetic and wonderfully
    ambient Wolfchild. Set in the lost land of Lyonnesse in the years
    1098 and 1099, Hawke draws the reader into the simple yet rich
    world of young Morwenna and the cycle that is her life…
    … this book serves as a wonderful introduction to history and
    fantasy and would be a fabulous adjunct to many syllabi that
    seek to plunge students into the past. The voice and tone of the
    novel ring true, and Morwenna, Raw and their disparate worlds
    are realistically and eloquently figured.

  6. An intriguing mix of English folklore and medieval history.

  7. This book is wonderful as it keeps you wondering until the end. Readers who love suspense, mystery, adventure and excitement will enjoy Wolfchild and won’t be able to put it down.

  8. Wolfchild provides good support for the study of medieval history for students in Years 6-8 and is ideal for reading aloud to a class, it is also an enjoyable read for younger students with plenty of action in each chapter.

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