Kayak! (Post 59)
Kayak! (1992) is one of the Bandinangi Books series. The main characters, Mark and Luke Winwood, are nine-year-old twins, friends of Jeremy (The Pest) Archer, co-narrator of One Weird Week (Post 56) Luke and Mark take it in turns to tell their story, but it is not chapter about.
Kayak! had its beginning when I was kayaking down the river with my son. We were down between wooded hilly banks, and I said something about it being impossible to tell the decade (or even the century) from our surroundings. At that point, my son fished an old plastic bag up on his paddle and said, "Twentieth Century, Mum."
It struck me to wonder about how people in the future would view littering, and Kayak! is the story that resulted.
Mark and Luke are twins, but not especially alike, Mark being careless and confident and Luke more withdrawn. They get kayaks for their birthday. Mark calls his Red Devil, and he and Luke talk their big brother Ben into taking them and their kayaks up river where they are meant to join their uncle for a paddle back down to Bandinangi. Ben delivers them to their starting point, but their uncle has not yet arrived. Ben, late for work, leaves them for the supposed ten minutes. Mark starts playing with a plastic bag, blowing it up and then bombing it with stones. It eventually gets away from him. The uncle is still not there some time later. Mark decides to start down river anyway. Luke doesn't want to, and waits, but when Mark disappears around the bend of the river, he decided to follow. After all, Mum is meeting them down at the bridge.
When Luke paddles around the bend, Mark is out of sight. Luke paddles all the way to the bridge, expecting Mark to be there before him, but Mark is not there. Hours pass and a search begins. Hours stretch to weeks and still there's no sign of Mark or Red Devil. The family is devastated.
In the meantime, Mark finds himself in the future where he has been scooped, kayak and all, to face charges for littering. The indestructible plastic bag is produced as evidence.
Kayak! includes a society dressed in all-encompassing sheets, conversing in sign language to avoid noise pollution. Only two people, Prof Q and his daughter, Lulu Quest, speak normal Australian English, and Lulu befriends Mark and tries to help him.
Kayak! became a surprise hit with primary schools where teachers used it in units on conservation and environment. It's been out of print for a long time, but every now and then someone still contacts me trying to replace a battered classroom copy. The paperback turned out not to be as durable as Mark's plastic bag.
About the Blog
Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)
The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. This preamble will be pasted to the top of each post, so feel free to skip it in future.