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Walkabout

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  1,710 Ratings  ·  162 Reviews
A plane crashes in the vast Northern Territory of Australia,
and the only survivors are two children from Charleston, South Carolina, on their way to visit their uncle in Adelaide. Mary and her younger brother Peter set out on foot, lost in the vast, hot Australian outback. They are saved by a chance meeting with an Aboriginal boy on walkabout, who teaches them to find food
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Paperback, 128 pages
Published January 2nd 1979 by Puffin (first published January 1st 1959)
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Ilsa Bick The book is completely different from the film; in some ways, the film only borrows a few elements: the children, the Aboriginal boy, and Australia.…moreThe book is completely different from the film; in some ways, the film only borrows a few elements: the children, the Aboriginal boy, and Australia. The kids are stranded because of a plane crash not a father's suicide, and the end is also wildly divergent. The book is wonderful as is the film (if you're into that particular kind of nihilism). Go enjoy the book; it's a little-known classic. Might be too simplistic for an adult reader, but you might still like it.(less)
Ilsa Bick You mean, like the film? Completely different, but it's still disturbing. The book is really much more about white anxieties about blacks and the…moreYou mean, like the film? Completely different, but it's still disturbing. The book is really much more about white anxieties about blacks and the collision of cultures than it is about the deadening effects of civilization (which is the film's primary concern).(less)

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sana  °¤°
School required reading. Which is surprisingly engrossing.

I'm going to be honest here, I actually did enjoy this quite a lot. I know, for some people reading for school makes a book less fun for them because of all the analyzing every little thing, quizzes on every chapter etc etc, but for me when my teacher explains all those little things about the book, it's actually interesting. I like it when my teachers ask us those "pointless" questions about the book and I absolutely love answering the q
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Darryl
Jan 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was written by Donald G. Payne by 1959, who used the pseudonym James Vance Marshall, in honor of a man who lived in the outback of Australia and collaborated with Payne in its creation. Walkabout did not receive much attention until 1971, after a movie based on the book, but not faithful to it, was released, to critical acclaim.

Eleven year old Mary and her eight year old brother Peter are residents of Charleston, South Carolina who find themselves stranded after their Adelaide-bound p
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Nandini
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Walkabout was the very first book I was ever assigned for school. I remember very little of the discussions my class had about the book, but vividly recall almost every page of the book itself.

I'm surprised at people saying nothing happens in the book because in my mind, each plot point and each detail of Peter and Mary's interactions with the bush boy stand out clearly even 17-18 years after I read it: Mary clucking like a mother hen around Peter, the bush boy teaching the city kids to get wat
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Rebecca McNutt
With themes of nature and survival, this book set in the Australian outback is both vivid and intense, and as the two stranded siblings start to trust their new friend, it becomes a story about friendship and growing up.
Sarah
Jul 06, 2014 rated it liked it
5/7 - This was a set book for literature in about Year 9. Thinking about it now, over a decade later, after only reading it that one time, I'm surprised at how many details of the plot I remember. I didn't love it or hate it, landing at either end of the rating scale usually being the best way to make a book memorable. The 'just okay' books, of which Walkabout was one (from what I remember) tend to be the ones I forget. I'm interested to see if I get more out of this than I did as a 15-year-old. ...more
Melinda
Oct 14, 2004 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014

Walkabout is a story of diversity, three children's experience of life through great diversity - culturally, environmentally, racially and rite of passage, death is also addressed.

The arid desolate, barren land of Australia's Northern Territory is vividly described explaining the difficult surrounding Mary and Peter contended with, while bush boy was one with nature, again contrasts tying the story together.

"Sturt Plain, where the aircraft had crashed, is in the centre of the Northern Terri
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Jacob
Brother and sister were products of the highest strata of humanity's evolution. In them the primitive had long ago been swept aside, been submerged by mechanization, been swamped by scientific development, been nullified by the standardized pattern of the white man's way of life...It was very different with the Aboriginal. He knew what reality was. He led a way of life that was already old when Tut-ankh-amen started to build his tomb.
(Walkabout, pp. 25-26)


Noble savage sacrifices self to save civ
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Rosemary
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought I had read this as a child or teenager, but I had a clear idea of the ending that turned out to be wrong, so I must have misunderstood what happened at the end when I was younger. I knew two children were alone in the desert of central Australia because of a plane crash. Anyway, that's how it starts and fortunately for them they meet a native Australian boy on walkabout who helps them find water and food.

However, it's not a sunny little story of how kids are blind to racial differences
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Nikki
Apr 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not entirely sure why I read this book. Maybe because it was reissued by NYRB, and I find it difficult to pass up their titles used? I bought this book at Barnes & Noble. If you live in the Twin Cities and find yourself in possession of a Barnes & Noble giftcard, I highly recommend checking out the HarMar location. They have used books! Wonderful, glorious used books. Not the best selection and not particularly well-priced, but used books nonetheless. Walking in to HarMar it's fun to ...more
Jackie (Farm Lane Books)
Apr 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Walkabout is a classic book about two American children who become stranded in the Australian outback after a plane crash. They are rescued by an Aboriginal boy who teaches them how to survive in this difficult climate. It is a short, easy read that is written for children, but I think this powerful book deserves an adult audience too.

Walkabout was first published in 1959. It reads like an Australian classic, but was actually written by an English author who spent time studying the country. The
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Ali Adenwala
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
This was a short, mildly enjoyable book. Throughout most of the story almost nothing happens, except for the death of the bush boy, and it continues that way until the end of the book. The first half was thoroughly captivating but along the way it got way too repetitive in its descriptions of the Australian outback (though very well written), and it didn’t really feel like it was going anywhere. It had a good message about cultural differences and acceptance but Marshal could have taken it a bit ...more
freckledbibliophile
This was a very enjoyable read. There were so many life lessons in such a small book. Language and race is only a problem when one allows it to be a problem. When one is taught that it is a problem. One must learn for themselves the meaning of what life is supposed to be. When this is done, only then will unity, love and peace exist.
Caramel12
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My first introduction to Aboriginal culture and Australia in general. I first picked this book up in the 4th grade and have very fond memories of reading it 5 times. That's how spellbound I became with this book and till today though I look at it with new eyes and understanding, it yet still holds a fond place in my heart.
TrinaLynn
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Good read for children.
Concise yet there is a lot of detail about their surroundings and the characters are very believable. Their dialogue, actions and reactions are age appropriate and culturally realistic.
Karen Witzler
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read in the early Seventies. I love the Nicolas Roeg film, too, even though it changes some plot essentials.
Ivan
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it
It's short - that's a plus. A plane crashes and two children (boy 8 girl 13) have to make their way through the outback to civilization. Along their way an aboriginal boy (13ish) on a vision quest right of passage sort of journey into manhood encounters them and saves their lives by showing them how to survive. They walk from one waterhole to another - which can get monotonous - 'and then we walked, and then we found food, then we slept, then we walked, and then..." It's an easy read, not uninte ...more
Debbie Kinsella
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved it, a heart warming story about the lives and trails of two children in the outback after their plane crashes and they are the soul survivors
Hilary
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think it's unlikely such a book would be written today. (view spoiler)

It's obvious the author knew Australia very well, and amazing how much description he managed to cram into such a short book, without it feeling intrusive. Instead, it's almost as if the children themselves are turning their heads, t
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Valerie
At the time I read this, I didn't make a connection with the Burke and Wills expedition. I was once told a story about an Aboriginal man who showed up in an abandoned settlement during WWII, and, finding nobody there, led his family through the Outback to another settlement, arriving with all well-fed and healthy. His guide? Old stories told around campfires in his childhood.

Burke and Wills, on the other hand, died from having arrived at their appointed rendezvous a mere 9 HOURS too late. If the
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Nicola
Feb 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Zwei weiße Kinder treffen im australischen Outback auf einen Aborigine Jungen, der ihnen hilft, in der Wildnis zu überleben. Er zeigt ihnen, wie man Feuer macht, Essen findet und führt sie zu Wasserlöchern. Der Aborigine befindet sich gerade auf dem Walkabout, einem traditionellen Ritual der Mannwerdung.

Zum einen wird die australische Landschaft mit ihrer faszinierenden Tier- und Pflanzenwelt beschrieben, zum anderen treffen zwei völlig verschiedene Kulturen aufeinander: zwei weiße Kinder aus de
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Tom
Jan 24, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Had never heard of this novel until reading review in NYRB, which I gather is actually the Intro to new NYRB edition. Siegel's intro also comments on a film version of the novel, which, though it sounds interesting in its own right, departs in some significant ways from the book (but then, don't they all ... or most) but that difference only highlighted the appeal of the novel. Sounds like another literary resurrection from NYRB worthy of our celebration and gratitude (and another cool cover, wh ...more
Wendy Jackson
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Four-star rating for a few reasons: (1) The book is a memorable one from when I was in school, and was so different than anything else I had read at the time; (2) The book contains some excellent wildlife descriptions (lyre bird scene is great - and I would recommend checking out youtube footage if you cannot picture it); and (3) While the whole 'noble savage' aspect of the book is anachronistic (among other things), it is probably one of the more respectful portrayals of Australian indigenous p ...more
Kristen
This short novel is notable for its really remarkable descriptions of the Australian landscape, as well as the sheer sadness and loveliness of the central storyline. I found Marshall's overall style to be a bit heavy-handed at times: the contrasts drawn between the Aboriginal boy and the American children (who are named Peter and Mary, leaving me to assume that the Aboriginal is the sacrificial Christ figure here, of pure goodness, dying for the sins of civilization) were hardly subtle. Still, f ...more
Dave
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Lovely idea of children rescued in the Australian Bush by Aboriginal boy. But very dated writing--very patronizing towards the boy, very ridiculously English "American" children, and very romanticized version of children and Australia both. The book wants to be a psychological study, a travel guide, an allegory, and a moral fable. The best parts are when it just wants to be a story. There aren't enough of those.
Prakash Yadav
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am glad that I didn't dismiss this book as a "children's book". The untold eeyorish story between the lines is disturbingly dark and ends abruptly ... of course the story itself is a 50 year old adventure story for children, but coupled with the impressive description of the aboriginal outback, the story has a dreamy dark texture which i absolutely loved. I am intrigued as to how the 'Lord of the flies' fandom missed this one.
3wash_alk3bi
May 28, 2015 rated it liked it
This is the story of an Aboriginal boy's walkabout and two American children lost in the Australian bush. When they meet, Mary and Peter learn about the desert. They follow the boy to food and water. Now they have finish their journey home!
Marts  (Thinker)
An unusual story about an american girl and brother lost in the Australian outback and the aborigine they meet.
Josephine  (reading in twilight)
Beautifully illustrative of the aboriginal outback, beautiful imagery and a simple classic story for young adults. I would have loved if this was longer.
Autumn W.
Nov 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Anyone who want to DIE of Boredom or likes to read 3 pages of bird discription
Shelves: don-t-like
It is the WORST book I have ever read.The author describes every single animals movement and appearance in the entire world for 10 pages.The book is very racist,I get that it's older but it's really racist.The ending is Horrible.There is absolutely no point of the last 10 pages.One of the characters is a girl named Mary.Mary is very annoying,hard to like and lazy high school girl.She is jealous of everything and is so concerned about herself.She acts so helpless!!!! I really don't recommend this ...more
Charlie
This is an interesting book that has a lot going on under the surface about white Americans' conception of race as it clashes with an Australian world, infused into what is basically a young adult survivalist adventure story. I liked the fantasia of Australian wildlife that Marshall presents here too, maybe because I always liked platypuses and such. It'll be interesting to compare this to the movie, which I hear goes in some, ahem, different directions.
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Pseudonym of Donald Gordon Payne.
He lives in Surrey, England, and has four sons and one daughter.

The Children, later known as Walkabout, though published under the name James Vance Marshall, was actually written by the English author Donald Gordon Payne as were a number of Payne's later works for children. The Children and other works were apparently based on Marshall's travel notes and diaries,
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More about James Vance Marshall...