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Wolfstongue - Sam Thompson, ill. by Anna Tromop

Silas is getting bullied at school because his words will not come. He wishes he could live in silence as animals do.

Deep in the Forest, the foxes live in an underground city built by their wolf slaves. The foxes’ leader Reynard controls everything with his clever talk.

One day Silas meets an injured wolf and helps him. Isengrim, Hersent and their pups are the only wolves left, moving between the human and animal worlds using hidden passageways as they fight to survive.

When Silas enters the secret world of the Forest he will learn that, even here, language is power. Can he find his voice in time to help his wolf friends – can he become the Wolfstongue?

A powerful story about standing up to bullies, doing what's right and the power of language, this is a lyrical, beautiful children's-book debut by Booker-longlisted Sam Thompson, based on his own personal experience of having a son with speech difficulties. Sam describes Wolfstongue as:

"... a myth about how language can trap us or make us free, about the self-doubt we feel when we can't find the words we need, and about how human stories have the power to shape the natural world."

Following main character Silas (cruelly nicknamed 'Silence' by bullies at school), an encounter with an injured wolf leads him to discover a community of animals whose voices he can hear, and who he can speak in front of. When he discovers that the wolf he helped, Isengrim's, life is also blighted by persecution (this time in the form of wonderfully stereotypical trickster and sly fox, Reynard) a fantastic adventure ensues that sees Silas discovering that finding your voice is a powerful force, as he battles to rescue his new friends' young.

The novel is illustrated throughout by Norwegian illustrator, Anna Tromop, who has done a wonderful job creating beautiful drawings of the cast of animal characters.

Reminding me in parts of Animal Farm, with its corrupt animal leaders, and in others of 'stand up to the bully'-genre classics such as 'Wonder' and 'Boy in the Girls' Bathroom' this is a moving story about the power of friendship and would be a lovely moral tale for confident KS2 readers.

I'm thrilled to have been asked to be part of the blogtour for this book by publishers, Little Island Books, and that I can share an exclusive video clip from Sam, talking about the book.

Wolfstongue by Sam Thompson is out now, published by Little Island Books.

Please support independent bookshops if considering buying a copy!

Find out more via the following links: (@LittleIslandBks on Twitter)

Anna Tromop is on Twitter as @AnnaTromop

Thanks to Little Island and Antonia for the advance copy of this book to review, and for including me on this blog tour.

Review by Rich Simpson (follow me as @richreadalot on Twitter and Instagram) May 2021

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