The Secret Cave (Wolf Girl #3)
Author: Anh Do
Release Date: 2 July, 2020
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
RRP: $15.99 (PB)
Synopsis: Wolf Girl is back in the wild, but that doesn’t mean life is any easier for her and her loyal pack of dogs. She has been searching for her family for a long time. Just when she feels she is close, the soldiers following her start to close in. Then Zip is injured and the pack has to slow down…
Who can Gwen trust? And how will she keep her pack safe while they are being hunted by dangerous enemies? Does this spell disaster for the one and only Wolf Girl?
Review: Anh Do has the magic touch when it comes to writing kid’s books and the Wolf Girl series is no exception – kids are constantly wanting to discuss their theories about the books – but Wolf Girl #3 loses some of its spark through repetition. Gwen is still on the run from soldiers with her animal pack and new ally, Rupert, and while they face new challenges, their overall goal remains the same: find Gwen’s family. This book largely recreates scenarios from the previous book which dulls the story.
The premise of this book is quite dark and obviously being a junior novel, you can comfortably read it knowing none of the people or animals will be seriously hurt (though one of the dogs is injured in this book). There are some nice lighter moments too, which the series has been lacking in until this point. Gwen and her pack meet a lady who, like Gwen, has accumulated a massive animal pack – but of cats! She invites the group to stay in her treehouse and a lovely dance scene ensues with Gwen, Rupert and the dogs. It’s also a little sobering to realise that Gwen has lost part of her childhood due to the still-unknown disaster.
She’s also still grappling with issues from the previous books: Can she trust Rupert? Can she trust anyone? Do the dogs really understand her? Can she rely on them? And can she in good conscience lead them into danger? Although these are good themes to continue from book two, I think at this point – and considering how much this series is going to be drawn out so that readers will be growing alongside it – it’s probably time to introduce new themes, or at least start providing answers.
Lastly, this book has a new illustrator and while the changes are subtle, in some of the action scenes the accompanying illustrations don’t always match the main point of action which makes it confusing to follow.
Recommended Age: Ages 8+
Favourite Quote: ‘Sometimes you have to take care of the family you have left.’
Themes: Adventure, survival, found family, friendship, bonding, animals, post-disaster.
Highlights: The tree house dance scene was a lovely moment.
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