Illustrations – Richard Pritchard & Sierra Pritchard
Spoilers Ahead! (marked in purple)
Meet Wylah (pronounced Wheel-la). She is confident in her artistic ability but not so much in the skills you’d find in the average warrior. Her claim to fame to date has been winning a throwing competition (she was the only competitor because everyone else was sick that day).
Wylah is going to need to find the warrior within though because the dragon army have stolen her Tribe and their animals, and it’s up to Wylah to save them.
‘You can do this, you can save our people, Wylah, the Koorie Warrior. Rise up, rise up within.’
To do this, Wylah and Po, a fellow artist, will need to find the five Guardians.
‘Guardians are the protectors of Tribes and the lands they live on. Powerful creatures that reside inside Totems’
When I was growing up there were an abundance of books available with characters I could easily identify with so I can’t imagine what it must be like to not have that. The first in a new series, Wylah is the Indigenous hero that’s been missing from the shelves for too long.
I loved that when most of the characters were introduced I learned the meaning of their name. There’s also a glossary in table form at the end of the book that tells readers both the English and Peek Whurrong words for names, their meaning and how to pronounce them. For the animal characters, their species is also included.
Without a doubt, Wylah’s name meaning has the most significance. Wylah comes from the word Wilan and means yellow-tailed black cockatoo. This is absolutely perfect because the yellow-tailed black cockatoo is author Jordan Gould’s tribal totem.
Wylah doesn’t immediately fully embrace her new role as the Koori Warrior, which made her more relatable. She has doubts about her abilities and she doesn’t magically become skilled in all of the areas she will need to be. It’s especially evident when she’s training that this isn’t going to be a success only journey.
Despite her lack of experience, Wylah has the heart, courage and determination of a warrior, and I’m keen to watch her grow into her new role as the series progresses.
I’m interested in finding out how old Wylah is. This would have been important to me as a kid as I preferred to read about kids who were my age or older.
I liked all of the animals (even the dragons) but my favourite was Bunyip, who’s not quite as fearsome as they may like to think they are. The Guardians spoke and some other animals did as well. However, some didn’t and I’m not quite sure yet what the distinction is between those who speak and those who don’t.
I really enjoyed the illustrations. The megafauna are realistic and the people are expressive.
The chapters where we follow Wylah were told in first person and had a boomerang picture above the chapter numbers. Those that focused on what was happening with the rest of the tribe were in third person, the pages were grey and the picture above the chapter numbers changed to an amulet. The boomerang and amulet were both appropriate design choices and the distinctions prevented me from ever having to wonder what perspective a chapter was being told from.
As I’d expect in a book that’s introducing a series, the premise was set up and I met some of the characters who will be important in future books. Some answers were provided but there are multiple plot points that will be ongoing.
I did have questions about a particular event in this book that weren’t answered. Why did Livingstone ask the people from Wylah’s Tribe where their home was when they’d just been taken from there by the dragons? Couldn’t the dragons have taken him to it?
Content warnings include death of a family member.
Thank you so much to Albert Street Books, an imprint of Allen & Unwin, for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
Meet Wylah: warrior, hero and friend. Her adventures have been 40,000 years in the making!
Wylah is brave, clever and strong-willed, and all her best friends are giant megafauna animals. But she isn’t a warrior. Not yet, anyway.
Then comes the day when her family is stolen by the dragon army, and her life is forever changed. She must find the courage to set out on a journey to save them. What will it take for Wylah to become a warrior, like her Grandmother before her?
Introducing an unforgettable cast of characters, Wylah the Koorie Warrior is a heart-stopping and imaginative adventure, inspired by First Nations history and grounded in culture.