As a prolific author of more than twenty-five books, Roseanne Hawke has cemented her place as one of Australia’s best-loved writers for children. Her work as an aid worker for many years in Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates continues to inspire many of her stories, and has effectively given her Western audience exposure to the rarely heard voices of children living in the East.
In Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog, Hawke breathes life into the catastrophic flood that devastated parts of Pakistan in 2010. Originally inspired by a photograph that the author came across while researching the tragedy, it tells the story of Jehan, a nine-year-old boy, who, when separated from his brother Amir and parents, must fend for himself and survive dangerous flood-waters. Lost and alone, hope arrives in the form of dog Lali, and together the pair form a special bond that will drive their quest to be reunited once again with their families.
Written in sensitive, descriptive prose, Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog, is simple enough to be accessible for younger readers, yet with a narrative that will certainly allow for high-levels of engagement with older children and more sophisticated readers. In the classroom, the story could operate effectively as a class text with strong cross-curricular links to Geography and issues relating to social justice. For older students, the novel would pair well with the likes of Andy Mulligan’s 2010 novel Trash, and likewise the 2014 film of the same name.
Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog, is a simple, yet beautifully told story of hope and survival. It will certainly inspire students in the primary years, while deepening their cultural awareness, understanding of the world, its geography and how this environment interacts with humans.
Tanya Grech Welden
The Leopard Princess is the second book in the series titled The Tales of Jahani by acclaimed South Australian author Roseanne Hawke. Following on directly from Daughter of Nomads, I highly recommend that readers will continue with this only after reading the first book. Unlike some series, which can be read in any order, I suspect that The Leopard Princess may fail to resonate if read in this way. I assume that the publisher made the decision to separate what was one rather long book into two smaller ones as they feared a younger YA audience may feel overwhelmed by such a large book. This was probably the right decision although I feel that both books could easily be bundled together in one volume and pitched successfully at an older audience.
Feel free to read my earlier review of Daughter of Nomads here. The Leopard Princess picks up the story in the Autumn of 1662. Jahani remains in hiding from her jilted fiancée, the cruel Muzahid Baig and the tyrannical Dagar Khan. With the constant risk of capture and increasing fear of retribution upon the nomadic people who are hiding her, Jahani knows that she must travel through the mountains to the northern kingdoms in an effort to secure peace for the region and realise her destiny. Continuing on from Daughter of Nomads, The Leopard Princess develops themes and ideas that explore good versus evil, triumph against adversity, in addition to the quest for one’s identity. The Leopard Princess also asks pertinent questions about love, leadership, followership, courage and self-sacrifice.
With plenty of action, a sprinkling of romance and just enough magic to make things interesting, I imagine that this book will appeal to readers in the middle years. Certainly, as Jahani moves further into adolescence, I envisage that older teens and many adults will also discover plenty to relate to. As with, Daughter of Nomads, this story provides unique opportunities for Asian perspectives, particularly to a History unit focusing on the Middle Ages and Renaissance period (which is too often Eurocentric). I imagine that students might appreciate the opportunity to compare the life of Elizabeth I with Jahani, contrasting the challenges and limitations faced by women in positions of authority at this time.
While The Leopard Princess neatly draws to a conclusion the quest begun in Daughter of Nomads, I will live in hope that Hawke will decide to write a third book in this series. After all, there are still plenty of adventures to be had for Jahani and Azhar. I’d also be keen to read a story written exclusively from the perspective of Azhar, especially one which explores a time before the events in books 1 and 2.
Tanya Grech Welden
In all honesty, I couldn’t wait to crack the spine on this one. When a book arrives on my doorstep with the name Roseanne Hawke attached to it, I just know that I am about to start what is guaranteed to be an amazing journey. Daughter of Nomads didn’t fail to disappoint. In fact, it lived up to every whisper of a promise hinted at in the rich teal cover.
Australian readers are no doubt very familiar with Hawke’s work. I first encountered her writing as a beginning teacher working in Port Augusta when I was ‘told’ to teach her contemporary novel The Keeper to my energetic group of year 8 students. The students were captivated and so began my first introduction to a writer whose work is as prolific as it is diverse. More recently I had the opportunity to read and review the immensely absorbing and gut wrenching story of Aster, a Christian Pakistani girl in her book The Truth About Peacock Blue (you can find my review for that title here). Daughter of Nomads, the first book in the series The Tales of Jahani, is also set in the world of the middle-east. However, Hawke explores this setting as it might have been in the summer of 1662, and adds a sprinkling of magic for good measure that is certainly reminiscent of the tales of Scheherazade.
Fourteen year-old Jahani lives with her mother in the village of Sherwan. Unfortunately, the violent world of tyrants and war lords is always close, with conflict constantly simmering and threatening to shatter the peace. One day, while shopping in the bazaar Jahani and her friend are attacked. With the help of Azhar, Jahani escapes certain death and so begins an adventure to discover the truth about her family and her real identity.
Daughter of Nomads will engage readers from in the middle years of secondary school. It will especially hold appeal with students that have an interest in religion and history and might be a useful text to explore middle-eastern cultures. While I personally would not use this as a shared text within my coeducational classroom, the accessibility of the language, make it a good choice for extending students into texts that are more culturally diverse. That said, the story has the potential to work really well with single sex female classes, providing a unique Asian perspective with historical connections that could easily complement the Year 8 HaSS National Curriculum focusing on the Mediaeval Period.
Daughter of Nomads was a captivating read that I found utterly immersive. I can’t wait for the release of the second book in the series The Leopard Princess.