Reviews of Walkabout (1959)
Review by valarieanne (2007-01-20)
Walkabout, by James Vance Marshall, is an exciting read that takes the reader on a journey through the Australian Outback as Mary and Peter, survivors of a plane crash, struggle to find their way to Adelaide. Marshall provides the reader with vivid descriptive passages that make the journey feel believable. With great attention to detail, he describes native insects, birds, and animals as the children meet and watch along the way. When they meet a young aborigine on a traditional walkabout, they believe their prayers have been answered. Peter responds to the boy with friendhip and curiosity. Mary is more reserved, at first suspicious, wary and afraid. The reader watches Mary come to terms with her feelings of racial and cultural superiority, and here lies the power of the novel. As Mary comes to understand another culture, she steps out of herself, her fears, and the blinders her own culture has placed over her eyes. Although appropriate for middle school readers, the novel refers to the nudity of the aboriginal boy, about which students often feel uncomfortable. With this caveat, I recommend the work for the beauty of its description, and for the depth of its message.