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1001 bonetalk
Added on 09th July 2020

Author Candy Gourlay
First published 2018
Publisher David Fickling Books, Oxford, UK

Action and adventure Family Historical Friends
1001

A story set in the Philippines 100 years ago.

Story

Over a hundred years ago, a boy named Samkad lives with his tribe in the remote mountains of the Philippines. One day a new boy arrives in the village. He may call himself Samkad’s brother, but he brings news of people called Americans who are coming to ‘civilise’ them and bring war and destruction to Samkad’s home.

Why we chose it

A beautifully written story set in the Philippines at the time of the 1899 American invasion told by a young boy growing up in a remote tribe who encounters the outside world for the first time. Most stories from this time are told in the voice of the invaders, tourists or anthropologists. Candy Gourlay takes us into the world of the Bontok tribe and shows us their world through their eyes.

Where it came from

Candy Gourlay (b.1962) is a Filipino author who lives in London. As a child she loved to read, particularly historical novels, like Oliver Twist and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but noticed that none of these books were set where she grew up or feature children like her.

In 1899 the Americans invaded the Philippines, initiating a brutal war and a programme to ‘civilise’ Filipino people. Gourlay wanted to write about this invasion from the Filipino perspective. Inspired by an old photograph she saw of a world fair in St Louis, Missouri, which featured horrible human zoos of so-called ‘primitive’ people, from Native Americans to Africans to Filipinos, Gourlay initially intended to set the novel at the exhibition but decided not to because her readers would have been just like the Americans, pointing and laughing at the Filipino people, rather than understanding and empathising with them.

Where it went next

Bone Talk was received well by critics and has been shortlisted for many awards, including the Costa Book Awards 2018 and the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019.

Associated stories

Gourlay has written several books for older and younger children. Her other books for older children include Tall Story (2010) and Shine (2013). She is also the author of the picture book Is It A Mermaid? (2018) illustrated by Francesca Chessa, and Ferdinand Magellan (2020), part of the First Names historical biography series for children.

Added on 09th July 2020

Author Candy Gourlay
First published 2018
Publisher David Fickling Books, Oxford, UK

Action and adventure Family Historical Friends
1001