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Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms
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Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,421 Ratings  ·  308 Reviews
Even a life on the untamed plains of Africa can’t prepare Wilhelmina for the wilds of an English boarding school in this lovely and lyrical novel from the author of Rooftoppers, which Booklist called “a glorious adventure.”

Wilhelmina Silver’s world is golden. Living half-wild on an African farm with her horse, her monkey, and her best friend, every day is beautiful. But wh
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 26th 2014 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2011)
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Apr 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: distant-lands
Her knees smelled the same as the air, of woodsmoke and earth. Had anyone ever been as happy as her?

having loved Rooftoppers more than most other books i read back in 2013, i was completely unprepared for my very tepid reaction to this one. i'm not gonna lie, it actually broke my heart a little. because Rooftoppers was perfect. it really was. rundell's writing in that book made me swoon and the whole tone of the book was so fresh and rambunctious and off-kilter in a way that made me feel exhilar
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middlegrade
This ended up to be a sweet book, although, for a relatively short book, it did take me a little while to get into it. The characters, overall story and the message were alright, but the writing was definitely the best thing about it. This one is probably my least favorite book by my author, but I still enjoyed it.

Now please enjoy some quotes from this book that perfectly illustrate Katherine Rundell's gorgeous writing style:

"Letters, she thought, were just like books - mostly about love."

“Her v
Diane Yannick
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is my 9 year old granddaughter's rating. Since it's written for the middle grades, I thought this would be appropriate. I read it on her advice and enjoyed it. Will is an engaging wildcat of a girl who had the freedom to do as she wished in the wildly beautiful country of Zimbabwe. Simon, her best friend, observed that one of the hazards of being her friend was that she disappeared for long stretches of time "rambling over the bush, singing softly, eating fruit, telling stories to aloe plan ...more
Oct 24, 2014 rated it liked it
After enjoying Rooftoppers so much, I was excited for KR's new book. The first 50 pages are full of the whimsy of her first: young white wild child Wilhemina (Will, Wildcat, Cartwheel), her great love of Zimbabwe, her black friend Simon, her foreman father and the ranch owner, Captain Browne. When her father dies of malaria, the young, evil manipulating wife ships Will off to boarding school in England, where she is miserable and abused by her classmates. The next 150 pages are difficult for her ...more
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Here is a book that I will be sharing with our "juvenile" readers from here to forever! This was a wonderful story of Wilhelmina - a girl raised on the African plains by her father. This life is all she knows and she loves everything about it. It is all stripped away from her when her father dies and his farm is taken over by a wealthy woman from a nearby city that wants nothing to do with Will. Will is sent to a boarding school in England and so begins her downward spiral - taunting from other ...more
Sam Musher
I have now written this review twice and lost it both times. The universe does not want me to post a review of this book. Suffice to say, it is some of the most gorgeous prose I have read in years. Read it, read it, read it.

It also has some of the most perfect descriptions of how hard school can be when you're different, and how worthwhile it is to persevere. Not because it gets easier, or because the bullies are secretly good kids with problems of their own and you'll be friends someday, but be
Penny Peck
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-ya
Will lives on a ranch in Zimbabwe and is a bit of wild child - her mom died a while ago and she is the only female around. This first third of the book is quite interesting, giving readers a real feel for this country. Later a tragedy occurs and Will is forced to London to a girls' boarding school, where she not only doesn't fit in, she can't cope at all with everyday activities like bathing or eating in the cafeteria. Then she escapes and that final third is also compelling, focusing on her urb ...more
Feb 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
It's difficult for me to figure out how I feel about this novel. In many respects, I think that Wilhelmina's story is one of a courageous little girl making the best of foreign circumstances that have upended her world. It broke my heart to see her go through so much hardship, and it was jarring to feel her displacement due to the move so keenly (since I moved to a new place at a similar age). What I did feel was a bit on the lackluster side was the secondary character development, but it didn't ...more
I adored Will and her fierce wildness. The imagery of Zimbabwe was so inviting. I greatly enjoyed the first half of the book, before Will was sent to England. The second half of the story left me wondering...

(view spoiler)
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, childrens-books
This review is for the audiobook.

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms will break your heart over and over. Wilhelmina has spent her childhood in Africa running wild with the farm boys, especially her best friend Simon. She loves riding her horse, climbing trees and being free, but she also loves ironing her father’s socks so he doesn’t catch parasites because she loves her father very, very much. Will’s mother died when she was young, and when her father becomes ill with the same cholera that killed he
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
As with Rundell's book Rooftoppers, this book drew me in quickly and didn't let go. I fell in love with the characters of Will and Simon - their easy friendship and their love of nature and Africa. This book is not all sunshine and roses though - the title is, after all, Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms - that is to say, learning to persevere through difficult things in life. Will is a free spirit, and when that free spirit is corralled and sent to a London boarding school, she has a very difficult ...more
Kim McGee
May 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Whilhemina, known as Will, lives on an African farm and is blissfully happy hanging out with the local stable boys and getting into trouble. She is rough, she is wild and her father loves her very much. When tragedy happens and Will's father passes away and the guardian she has come to trust sends her instead to a boarding school in England, Will's world is upended. Her life there is miserable and she runs, searching for anything in England that will feel like the home she once knew. In running ...more
Jarm Del Boccio
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This story captures the essence of what it means to be African. Poignant account of a young Zimbabwe girl with English origins who is ripped from the life she loves and plunged into the strange culture that is England. A place where order is paramount, and so unlike the freedom of the bush. I was immediately pulled in to the setting as if in a dream, from the first few pages, with the author's lyrical voice. It is best appreciated in an audio book. Perfect preparation for a trip to this vast con ...more
Oct 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, juvenile
This was a fabulous book! Little Will, a wild girl from a farm in Tanzania, is a free spirit who values truth and friendship. Unfortunately for her, life is not always fair and adults aren't always true. She finds herself an orphan at an all girls school in England and has to figure out a way to come to terms with her situation. She has a great verve for life and has grand adventures, but always you feel a little worried and heart-broken for her. I feel like the language and dialect might be a b ...more
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-reread
I will admit that I went into this very wary. The whole non-boarding-school girl gets sent to boarding school is not my thing.
And I was very happy to be proved wrong.
Why was I proved wrong? Because first there is a beautiful, glorious seven chapters in Zimbabwe, where Will is wild and free. And it is all so real.
Which makes what comes next all the more achingly sad. But Will won't change. She still finds hope, eventually. And she still makes good, true friends.
Perhaps, after everything, the
Holly~ Queen of the Books
3 Stars✨

I must say, I'm not wholeheartedly in love with this book (don't hate me!). I don't really know what to say, but I'm underwhelmed and unimpressed😞

Wilhelmina's story seemed promising and looked full of potential- and if the story was longer and held more detail, that might be the case. A white Zimbabwean girl, Wilhelmina is spunky, courageous and completely out of her comfort zone when shipped off to a London Prep school for girls!

Everything seemed perfect, but when I opened the book and
May 02, 2017 rated it liked it
While the cover is beautiful and the writing is beautiful, I was a bit bored and felt aimless because I didn't know where the story was going or how I was even going to get there. 45 pages in and the story itself still had not begun.
Harun Harahap
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ketika "common sense" diutamakan, mungkin semuanya lebih teratur dan 'normal'. Namun sesungguhnya ada ketidakteraturan menarik yang hilang. Yang membuat kehidupan menjadi lebih dinamis. Berupa garis putus-putus dengan panjang pendek beragam. Bukan garis utuh statis membosankan.
Maureen Lubitz
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I found Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms at the library. I love to browse the New Arrivals shelf, and see my library’s latest acquisitions. The premise interested me, so I added it to my pile of books. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms is a middle grade novel by Katherine Rundell.

I was initially drawn to this story because the summary on the book flap mentioned boarding school. I love boarding school stories, especially English boarding school stories. I wouldn’t say that the summary was misleading, b
LH Johnson
Stiffly written at points, and beautifully in others, The Girl Savage is a book of peaks and troughs. Ultimately it's an awkward read but one that retains a powerful sense of heart throughout. It is, as you may gather, somewhat confusing.

Wilhemina Silver (Will) has lived in Zimbabwe all her life with her widower father. Will lives a wild life in the bush; falling off horses, climbing trees, and in one particularly memorable incident, biting the head off a tick. It's only when her father falls i
Ms. Yingling
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Although it took me a while to sort out all the facts of WIll's life and backstory at the beginning of this book, I am so glad I pushed through. This story begins in Zimbabwe and ends in England. Will Silver (short for Willhelmina) is a tomboy, freedom loving, who runs with the boys. Her father runs a farm and allows her to maintain her wild ways and self sufficiency. Will's mother dies of malria when WIll is just five years old. Six years later her father is also stricken down with malaria and ...more
Emily M
Katherine Rundell has blown me away again. This is my third of her books and each one has left me speechless and hugging the book. Seriously!

This novel is about a young girl, Will, growing up in Zimbabwe on a beautiful farm where she is free and happy. Orphaned, her evil guardian sends her away to an elite boarding school in London where she is mauled with the cruelty of the "mean girls" while experiencing extreme, traumatic culture shock. The darkest parts of this book are exasperating. You can
NZBook Girl
Jul 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Katherine Rundell's 'Rooftoppers' was one of my favourite books of a couple of years ago so I was keen to read this new title. Then I discovered it was not as new as it seemed, it had been published previously, in slightly different form, under the title 'Girl Savage'. The new title is certainly more poetic and I think contains much more of the nature of Will, the little girl character the story focuses on. She grows up wild and free on a farm in Africa, with animals and local boys as her deares ...more
Beth Bonini
I read this book with an intensity that was almost painful. After loving Rooftoppers, I was eager to love this book, too, but I found it very grim. . . and I keep wondering why that is so. There is just so much loss in it. The displaced orphan is a familiar trope of children's literature, and it features in some of my favourites going all the way back to A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, but usually those losses take place mostly "off-stage". Will's wild childhood in Africa is so lovingly ...more
Marathon County Public Library MCPL
Will (Wihelmina) loves her wonderful, wild life on the hot, dusty African farm where she is free to roam, climb trees and play with her best friend Simon and numerous animals all day long. Unfortunately her idyllic life comes to an abrupt halt after her father dies from malaria and her father’s friend and new guardian Captain Browne marries a heartless woman. Given no choice by his new wife he is forced to sell the farm and send Will to a strict boarding school in London. Stuck inside a rigid bu ...more
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-and-kidlit
A unique voice, beautiful writing, and a completely captivating female protagonist make this book a big win for me. The first part is set in Zimbabwe, and the setting certainly feels authentic (I can't honestly judge the authenticity of it myself, but apparently the author has lived in Zimbabwe.) Pacing is always of utmost importance for middle grade novels, and this one moves along quite well: it's perhaps just a bit slow at the start, largely because of the unfamiliar setting and odd family dy ...more
Clelia Gore
Jul 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
This lovely book started off reminding me of A Little Princess (a wonderful thing) and then took a turn I did not expect, but wholly appreciated. I sense perhaps another adventure for Will is on the horizon -- I'm hoping for it! The best part of the book was the first half, being transported to Zimbabwe and into the life of this extraordinary, completely wild and free girl, Will. Part Sara Crew from A Little Princess-part Mowgli from the Jungle Book! The design of this book was really beautiful ...more
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This story is beautiful because it is at turns both subtle and brutal. Will is a modern hero that all children can embrace. The story does not end perfectly but it ends hopefully and with a depth of emotion that so many middle grade novels lack. I will be recommending this to any child who needs to find someone who truly understands what it is to be an outcast, but who uses that inner-worth to make his or her world better, no matter how hard that might be. I hope you'll read it, "ja?"
Mar 28, 2016 added it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Internal/External Conflict 1 2 Dec 15, 2015 01:14PM  
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Katherine Rundell was born in 1987 and grew up in Africa and Europe. In 2008 she was elected a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. Her first book, The Girl Savage, was born of her love of Zimbabwe and her own childhood there; her second, Rooftoppers, was inspired by summers working in Paris and by night-time trespassing on the rooftops of All Souls. She is currently working on her doctorate along ...more
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“Neither could speak. It was the day that a silence settled on the pair of them, and they were bound close by it. Will felt, in that moment, too small to face such misery, but she knew that she would have to expand now, with a terrible rush, to fill the empty space.” 1 likes
“Intoxicated with her success and his awed eyes, and with the way the wind rushed by and flicked delicate strands of saliva across her cheeks, Will spread out her arms, spun in a pirouette. Shumba chose that moment to stumble over a rabbit hole and with a terrific crash, that sounded and resounded for miles and miles of flei, Will fell into the long grass.” 1 likes
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