The instant I saw the cover to Scavengers I was curious about the story within and keen to explore its pages, characters and plot. ” What happens when you break the rules?” the front cover asks, whilst depicting the silhouette of a child on top of a junk pile in the company of lots of animals. I wanted to know more and I was not disappointed.
This debut title by author Darren Simpson centres around a young boy named Landfill and an older man that has bought him up from a baby, Babagoo. They live together as scavengers amongst the disused buildings and machinery of an old company grounds, making modifications to ensure they are safe from ‘the outsiders’ such as broken glass topped walls, whilst always following the rules Babagoo created ( there are several!). But as Landfill has started to grow up he has become more and more curious about what lies beyond the walls that surround him and is determined to find out – even if it means breaking the rules!
From early in the story it is clear that Landfill has a huge appreciation and respect for animals and he is aware of their presence and interacts with them at every opportunity. Whilst they provide the child with much needed companionship, the use of animals in this book also conjures up images of captivity and freedom and a perception of both, an always highly relevant topic.
My interpretation of Landfills relationship to Babagoo and the reason they came to be scavengers changed several times during my reading of the book and it was this uncertainty in their circumstances that meant I was still reading at 2am several days in a row, gripped with apprehension at the end of a chapter and eager to continue into the next. I particularly loved the basic vocabulary used between the boy and his elder for every day words like dog, whilst unique to the two of them it felt like it reflected what was most important to them and the closeness of their relationship over the years.
This book covers so many topics including language barriers, trust, freedom, fear of the unknown, and boundaries/walls which is definitely all very relevant at present globally and I really felt fully emersed in Scavengers and truly admire that through to the very end I was learning more about the characters and the plot making it difficult to be certain how this inspiring story would ultimately end. I loved not being able to predict it at all.
I look forward to introducing this book to year 6 students at our school and I am confident that the children we see as reluctant yet capable readers would engage well with Scavengers too. Aimed at 11 years plus this book would be a fantastic read that introduces readers to a deeper, more insightful fiction and would make fantastic prep for secondary school literacy. Scavengers is also a summer reading challenge 2019 title.
Publication date – 07.03.19
RRP – £6.99