Cover Image: The Wild Before

The Wild Before

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Rated 4 1/2 stars on my blog... The Wild Before is a great story that encompasses animals in the natural world and the climate. It is suitable for older middle-grade readers.
The Wild Before starts off illustrating different sorts of moon for the whole year. A different name per month. There's also a glossary so children can totally understand the animals.

Readers get to know Little Hare first, who runs ever so fast to find where Dandelion Hill was. From the start you can tell there is something not right. Little Hare is on a mission to find the wild and to pass on an urgent message. Wildeness is in charge, but he encounters wolves who claim to be guardians of Wildeness in the north.... The book then goes onto the first chapter and beyond. It's absolutely beautifully written and captivating by the tension created and trepidation. In an instant you care about Little Hare and what she has to say and hope he survives. There is also Bite-Hare, Sist-Hare and Run-Hare.
The book is cute in its storytelling and in its illustrations, but also shows some of the hardships that wildlife has. There are also dogs and humans to fear and to watch out for as the hares try to leave the farm they are on to go to try and travel northwards to get to speak with Wildeness. They also comes across Brock who is a badger and a harvest mouse, who has lots of songs. The mission also means trying to find a specific flower and that may require a human as the race is on to stop a virus.

The book highlights climate change and the sea levels rising and the hardships humans and animals have. The book also shows the natural world in action in all its magnificence and also the life and death within it and that concern animals have that their prey may capture them that day. The book also shows heirarchy in animals and Wildeness being at the top.

The Wild Before is like today's Animal's of Farthing Wood and Watership Down. It fits very well with these books in its themes and desire to read about the natural world and to care about it. It may be an emotional read for children, but one that they'll find compelling to say the least.
It has, amongst the adventure and all the dangers, an important message to convey to readers too.
Classes in schools are already reading this. There's much to read and discuss, but in saying that, it can also be read for pleasure at home too as middle grade readers will like being swept up in the storytelling and the adventure of it all.
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This is a great read and i would recommend you read this! This was a really fun read which I read so so quickly to my little one, she was obsessed. I was kindly gifted an e-book in return a honest review.
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Even the smallest creatures can create a ripple of change..

In this Last Wild standalone prequel, Little-Hare discovers a silver-coloured calf, born beneath the light of a full moon, he is determined to protect her. Because animal legend predicts that if anything happens to this mooncalf, a great Terribleness will come…

This was such a heartwarming read, full of suspense and although this climate fiction may be targeted for a younger audience, I loved it!
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The prequal to The Last Wild trilogy, I was very excited to read The Wild Before and I most definitely wasn’t disappointed.  Little-Hare is a brave and determined character who, despite constant self-doubt, is inspirational and a character we could all do with looking up to.  Despite knowing what happens in the other books, I found myself willing Little-Hare to change the outcome and the end of the book had been genuinely sobbing!  This book has the strongest environmental messages in it and is very much reflective of what is happening in the world today (both in terms of the pandemic and global warming).  Beautifully written (as I’ve come to expect from Piers!), this is a book that we need to read and listen to. It also shows us that, no matter how small we are, we can make a difference.
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As a huge fan of Piers Torday's 'Last Wild' series, I was excited to read this prequel.  

Little-Hare lives on Dandelion Hill with his sist-hare, but their world is changing.  The weather isn't acting like it should and strange things are going on at the farm at the bottom of the hill, where an unknown word keeps appearing on everything: Facto.  One April night in a sudden snow storm, Little-Hare finds a new-born, silver-coloured calf and so an ancient prophecy is set in motion.  He has been chosen to do all he can to protect Mooncalf and avoid the 'Terribleness' befalling them all, but can one little hare succeed in a mission so great? 

It is a compelling, sometimes heart-wrenching, read with an important environmental message that you can't ignore; it is difficult not to draw comparisons with our own world.  I found myself often holding my breath due to the tension but there are moments of light relief with the robin's hilarious comments or the mouse and his unwanted singing.

If you haven't yet read The Last Wild trilogy, definitely read The Wild Before and then move onto the others - you won't be disappointed.
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I really enjoyed this book.  I have previously read and recommended “The Last Wild” to pupils and I am looking forward to recommending this to new pupils.  

Books written with an animal voice can be cloying this is not.  There is a field guide to the animal voice at the start along with animal time and the different moons.  This sets the scene with regard to the narration being from an animal perspective. Is it intended that readers will start the series with this book now?  I wonder how that will work?  The beginning of “The Last Wild” really captured the imagination with a world that was so strange.  This is not quite the same and yet it did work.  What was the message the hare had to tell and how was he going to survive the predators?  This is explained throughout the book and does set up the rest of the series nicely.  The animals do have human characteristics and the message of conservation, fear of disease and the need for good leadership have been reflected in such tales before especially in “Watership Down”.  Both have such a strong message.

If you were looking for a genre to place this in, it will be difficult.  It is part adventure, part ecological/dystopian, fantasy, friendship and loyalty, plus having animals as the main protagonists.  A wonderful addition to the library shelf.
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The Wild Before is undoubtedly a call-to-arms, reminding children of the powerful role they can play in changing the future of our planet, despite the mistakes of their forefathers. It is a tale of hope, of the importance of facing bleak realities and meeting these challenges face on, and of the difference one person can make. 

Little Hare finds himself at the centre of a prophecy: can he alone save the mysterious Mooncalf and change the course of history for his wild?

I found The Wild Before a haunting and grim tale. Even more frightening was the fact that when the post-apocalyptic feel is examined, it is clear the apocalypse is here and now. I thought it was very powerful book but if I’m honest it was too harrowing for me. Although it is a story of hope, I felt hopeless reading it and therefore did not enjoy it. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC of this powerful and eye-opening story.
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This is the first Piers Torday book I've read, and I was drawn to it as I've heard lots of positive praise for the Wild books on twitter. This book didn't disappoint, with charming characters, plenty of action and a clear sense of foreboding which builds as the novel develops. 
The humour of the singing mouse & the amorous hare help to diffuse the tension running across each chapter, however, this is a story which needs telling more now than ever, and Torday does it spellbindingly. KS2 children will love reading this and be eager to find out what happens enigmatic taster to the Wild series (which I'm off to read next!)
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Reading a book about climate disasters just as the UN report came out was a surreal, and somewhat unsettling experience. A very powerful though alarming experience that clearly draws on our world with weather extremes and the young trying to fight for climate awareness while the older generations ignore it until it's too late. THE WILD BEFORE is a call to action.

With it's animal narrators and focus, not to mention biting commentary, on the current climate disaster, this book can best be described as ANIMAL FARM for the modern day. It has a subtle, tongue-in-cheek humour around some of the side characters - the stand-offish robin whose chorus is threatening violence, the mouse who sings.

It's a challenging read, packing a lot into 200 pages, with a tension that does not let up. It's quite a bleak story as disasters rock the animals' world and Little-Hare feels helpless to stop it - despite knowing that no one else will. However, there is still hope the the worst can be mitigated.

I haven't read the original trilogy that this book prequels, but I was able to follow along perfectly - and spot where the references to the original trilogy probably were. You could probably enter the series from either the first book in the trilogy or this prequel, depending on whether you wanted to start with a human or animal main character.
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The Wild Before is the prequel to the Last Wild trilogy but works perfectly well as a stand alone novel. It is basically a quest story where Little Hare is chosen to find the magic wild flower that will cure Mooncalf. If he doesn’t succeed, then a dreadful event known as the Terribleness will occur. The story is set within the world that the animals know collapsing around them, droughts and unseasonal snow storms are indications that all is not as it should be. 
Little Hare is brave but very real in his emotions and the way he often feels like giving up but gong on despite that. The other characters in the book are also believable and also add touches of humour to the story. 
Piers Torday has created a very real world which is worryingly close to the world we are beginning to create for ourselves as we lose species and habitats on a daily basis. It’s a great adventure story despite the dark message and you really want Little Hare to succeed. The book looks gorgeous too with silhouette illustrations throughout. I loved the original trilogy and this is just as good.
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So this is a prequel story to the Last Wild Trilogy. I had read The Last Wild, The Dark Wild and The Wild Beyond, and it felt good to return to the Wild world once again. I think you would enjoy this book even if you haven’t read the trilogy. It is written from the animals’ point of view and in particular, that of Little Hare.  He lives as part of the Dandelion Hill Wild, made up of both wild and farm animals.  The native animals and seasonal visitors have noticed changes in the world around them, blazing summers, rising seas, late snows in spring and the Wild is not as secure as it once was. The head of their Wildness, a Great Bull, has dreamt a prophecy; of a Mooncalf and the end of the world and it is Little Hare, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings, who must be the reluctant hero. Also, like Frodo, he has help along the way in the form of a harvest mouse, whose songs and dances are the stuff of legend (or they very soon will be I’m sure).
The setting of Dandelion Hill is beautifully described and evokes the countryside in way that is so real, it transports you back to your own personal, favourite countryside, mine being the Wiltshire of my childhood.  There is a strong theme of nature conservation and climate change, the effect that humans are having on the world and the young waxwing is the voice that speaks to us all to say “What are YOU going to do about it?”
Piers Torday is a master story-teller and world builder, who must have a GSOH because there are lovely puns and funny touches throughout the novel (beautiful robin song anyone?) I loved the introduction to the time and tongue of the animals (which is the language the book uses) and the names and personalities of the characters. The pages themselves are decorated with natural silhouettes which add to the appeal of this book, with lots of little hares and other animals interspersed.  I am looking forward to sharing this story at school with our Key Stage 2 children. I think they will really enjoy it as much as I did.
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Teaching is my second career – something I didn’t pick up until I was in my forties and I remember very clearly the children in my first class after I qualified. Amongst my charges was a very quiet boy, who had missed a lot of his schooling before he came to my class as he had been very unwell. A delightful lad, I was very fond of him and couldn’t help but notice when he started reading a book in the summer term which held him utterly spellbound to the point where I could barely get a word out of him at all. At the end of the year, he very kindly gave me a book token and I felt it very appropriate to buy a copy of that book to see just what it was that had held him so captivated.

That book was The Last Wild – a fabulous adventure, unlike anything else I had ever read, and one with which I fell in love – sharing it with my next class as a class reader before going on to read the two sequels that followed it. And so it was a great deal of excitement and not a little trepidation that I read the news that there would be a prequel. As far as I was concerned, the original trilogy was utter perfection and although I was desperate to read this new story, I was also concerned that I wouldn’t love it as much and would be left feeling disappointed. How foolish I was, because this is everything I hoped it would be – an engaging read which not only sets up the reader beautifully to read the original titles for the very first time, but which will also delight fans of those books in the way that they are echoed and hinted at here.

Our story opens some years before The Last Wild, on Dandelion Hill where Little-Hare is reflecting on the arrival of spring and the expansion of the local farm. Together with sister Run-Hare, he is puzzled by the unseasonal snow which starts to fall covering everything, and hiding their sources of food from them. Hungry, Little-Hare decides to go in search of something to eat, but instead comes across a silvery new-born calf which he names Mooncalf and promises to look after, before workers from the farm arrive and he runs away to safety.

Returning to Run-Hare, Little-Hare relates what has happened to his sister, who insists that the news be shared with the rest of the wild – the animals who live on and around Dandelion Hill. Explaining to Bull – the leader of the wild – what has happened, Little-Hare is horrified when Bull tells him that Mooncalf’s birth has been foretold and that if she is not saved by midsummer a great Terribleness will befall the world.

Instructed by Bull to prevent this calamity unfolding, Little-Hare must first of all find Mooncalf, but there are those who would prevent him from succeeding in his mission for their own gains. As he tries his hardest to complete the task he has been given, Little-Hare comes to realise the seriousness of the responsibility entrusted to him and just what will happen if he is unable to carry out Bull’s instructions…

So much has happened in the last few years since the initial story was published, with both the effects of climate change and the pandemic being foremost in my mind as I read this. Where the original books focussed primarily on the experiences of a human child, here the animals, and in particular Little-Hare, are what drives the narrative forward. This gives the story a different feel, with the utter unfairness and wrongness of what happens to the natural world as a result of mankind’s selfish drive to improve things leaping out from every page. With the BBC reporting only this week that the UK is already experiencing disruptive climate change – surely a surprise to few people – this story would make a great class reader to complement an environmental topic in school where many of our children are keen to discuss what contributions they can make to help and will hopefully go on to exert their pester-power on their adults to bring about change.

Talking to children, it seems that they often feel they are too young or inexperienced in the ways of the world to have a say in what goes on around them, but here the part Little-Hare plays is of paramount importance and he is a wonderful role model to young readers to demonstrate to them that every contribution – no matter how small – is vital in turning things around. I grew very fond of Little-Hare as the book went on and I suspect a great many other readers will too.

This is such a delightful book – charming and original, and with a powerful message at its heart. Whether or not you have read the other books, I recommend this whole-heartedly and would say it is suitable for mature Year 4s upwards. Huge thanks go to Quercus Publishing and Net Galley for my advance read ahead of the hardback publishing on 19th August, and the paperback on 3rd March next year. 5 out of 5 stars.
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Piers Torday’s  The Last Wild Trilogy has been a hugely powerful collection of stories taking Kester Jaynes on an epic journey to save wildlife species from the insanity of man’s choices. These books have been immensely popular with readers aged 9+ ( upper Ks 2):This prequel to the Last Wild introduces the reader to the Wild / Wilderness and events leading up to the first instalment of the trilogy. 
Little Hare embarks on the quest to save the life of the legendary moon calf born in a snow storm and whose  death foretells the arrival of a plague. 
The Wild Before reflects so much of the current state of the planet and makes many analogies that will be ideal to  open up discussions with readers particularly in the light of Covid. 
The epic journey to find a wild magic flower to help heal the calf  is exciting but is underpinned with a sense of foreboding. The inclusion of Kester’s father as a scientist who meets Little Hare builds the bridge more closely to the future events. There are some wonderfully comical moments amidst the deeper , darker story. The singing field mouse and the ‘ loved-up ‘ Tooth Hare add lighter touches however it is the animal collective supporting each other amidst the growing disaster that shines through and draws a direct polar opposite to the human species. 
This is a fast paced , intelligent and powerful prequel and deserves to be read as an introduction to Piers Torday as an author or as a very necessary start to the Last Wild series.
A triumph of children’s literature ( tinged with a sense of sadness as to what the future may hold for the younger readers )
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