From the Publisher
"Walk the Wild Road is probably one of my favorite Middle Grade reads so far since starting my blog. It did the history well without sacrificing the storyline or the characters along the way. " - Dreaming in Books
"I think Walk the Wild Road would be a perfect fit for boys who enjoy reading middle grade adventure or historical fiction books. As well as for adults who like those same genres.
" - Stalking the Bookshelves
"The great thing about this book is that while it is an adventure story it also delves deeper into really important issues like war, nationalism, religion, and poverty." - Book Labyrinth
"Hinton's writing flawlessly flows across the page and enchants the reader. I felt like I was standing right beside Leo throughout his journey." - Reading Lark
"Hinton does a nice job transferring this story from family lore to a tale that will resonate with teen boys and girls." - Mother Daughter Book Club
"This four star book is one you'll want to read from cover to cover. " - Pulaski County Public Library
"The summary for Walk the Wild Road by Nigel Hinton does not come close to describing the impact felt in this historical fiction story about Leo's journey to reach America. " - Eating YA Books
VOYA - Ursula Adams
Hinton, who found middle school success with Buddy (Puffin Books, 1983) and the Beaver Tower series (Puffin Books), prefaces this book by recounting that it is based on his grandfather's childhood journey from Poland in 1870. The story, however, is purely fictional. Leo and his large family are confronting difficult times during Prussia's war with France. They are very poor, so poor that they must sell off the eldest daughter to work in a tavern. Leo must also go out and seek a way to earn an income. The reader is then on the road with Leo as he escapes farmhands, meets his best friend and fellow traveler, Tomasz, and sails away and into danger with Patryk, a sailor he befriends. The story moves from adventure to adventure and details many trials, often tragic, that Leo must endure. Filled with richly developed characters, it is ultimately a story of friendship and loyalty. The ending is a bit unresolved, leaving readers to wonder if a sequel might be on the horizon. All in all, Walk the Wild Road is a clearly written tale that is best suited for readers who like a touching story heavy with adventure. Reviewer: Ursula Adams
After he punches a nobleman's deserving son, 11-year-old Leo must flee or face prison, so he takes to the road in a Poland being torn apart by the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Determined to make for the sea and find a way to America, he is joined by artful dodger Tomasz, a likable, streetwise 14-year-old on a quest of his own. Along the way, they encounter their share of misfortune as well as a series of adults, some kindly and helpful, others only interested in taking advantage of the youths. The sense of place and time is strongly conveyed, including poverty, brutal prejudice and an unfair class system. The two main characters are reasonably well developed, and the obstacles they face are never minimized in this coming-of-age tale. But sentence structure rarely varies, colorful imagery that would have lifted it to a higher level is lacking and the plot-driven narrative moves forward at a measured, too-predictable pace. These factors all conspire to keep this from rising above a crowded field. (Historical fiction. 10-14)
Read an Excerpt
From Chapter One
Leo was the first to see the storks.
He was on the high bank overlooking his house when he heard the flapping of wings. He looked up through the bare branches of the birch trees and saw the big birds overhead.
They were flying low, as if they were going to land.
He held his breath and prayed, "Please stop. Please stay."
At that moment, as though answering his prayer, one of the storks turned its head and glanced at the stork pole that stood invitingly at the edge of the village. But the birds flew on across the track and away over the fields toward the River Netze. He watched until they were just distant black dots. Then they made a slow turn to the left and Leo's heart began to beat faster as the dots grew larger. He realized that they were coming back.
As the storks approached the village again he stood stock-still, fearing that a sudden movement might scare them away. He became aware of all the noises around him-a dog barking near the church, some young children shrieking and calling from the fields-noises that might frighten the storks.
But no, they kept coming, heading toward the stork pole, a tall pine trunk with an old cartwheel on the top. His father had built it eleven years earlier to give thanks for Leo's birth and to attract good luck for his family and the whole village. Everyone knew that a stork nest could bring harmony and fertility-babies, good crops, and healthy animals. But for all of Leo's life, the stork pole had remained empty. And instead of plenty, there had been struggle and scarcity. For three years in a row, the potato crop had failed and famine had gripped the village, carrying off the weak, young and old, with sleeping sickness. Even in the better years, not a belly in the village was ever full.
Only last year, Papa had stopped the whole family near the pole as they were walking home from the funeral of baby Karolina. He had looked up at the chattering magpies standing on the top of the pole and said, "I should take it down and burn it for all the good it has done us. Babies it brings us, only to watch them starve."
But he had not carried out the threat, and now there were storks flying toward the pole. Leo closed his eyes, willing them to land, and his heart thudded in his chest.
When he finally dared to look, the storks were perched on either side of the cart wheel. They stretched out their long necks and began to make a loud, dry, clacking noise with their beaks as if to announce their arrival and their intention to stay.
And stay they did.