Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Song for the Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt
The writing talent of Julie Hunt is certainly diverse. She is the author of the CBCA award winning book The Coat and now we have this incredible fantasy Song for a scarlet Runner which is set in a world so beautifully crafted you will feel every bump in the road and every sound in the marshes. This title is certainly deserving of a place in the CBCA short list for 2014.
Julie Hunt takes a few pages to gently introduce the main character Peat and her sister Marlie who live an isolated life tending a small herd of cows their only visitor an aged relative who calls once a month with supplies. The Overhang, where the girls live, is between three roads - one to the Badlands, one into the marshes and one to Skerrick.
"I would never have wanted to live in Skerrick even if I had been allowed to, but Marlie would have gone back and lived there the next day if she could. She'd been born there - well we both had, but she'd lived there for six years, and I'd only been there for a day."
As the girls anxiously await the visit of Wim, a stranger arrives. His language and appearance are foreign and he seems to have some power over their animals. Marlie is suspicious but Peat is curious. He does not stay long and when he passes by again he does not stop. It is clear he has been beaten. Shortly after this Wim finally arrives but she has bad news. The stranger has infected the people of Skerrick with a deadly disease and their leader (estranged father of Peat and Marlie) is out for revenge. This means Peat must flee her home and the only security she has ever know. With two of the paths blocked she heads to the Badlands then later to the marshes and to a destiny she could never imagine. Along the way she will make friends with some remarkable people and animals including the Sleek you see on the front cover.
Here is a short video trailer. Here are some teaching notes. You might like to dip into the author web site. If you need to read more of the plot here is a detailed review. Here is an interview with Julie Hunt.
If you enjoy Song for a Scarlet Runner you should also look for the Little Fur books by Isobel Carmody, Wildwood by Colin Meloy, The Stonekeeper's daughter by Linda McNabb or Tajore Arkle by Jackie French. All of these have a similar sense of place, survival, trust and friendship.