Chance On Safari

Stock and Station, Book 1

Fiction - Short Story/Novela
40 Pages
Reviewed on 12/13/2016
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Chance On Safari: Stock and Station, Book 1 is an historical short story written by Mark Piper and illustrated by Grange Wallis. Ironwood Station was Chance's world. The thirteen-year-old lived with his guardians, Betty and Jim Huskins, on the large sheep farm that Jim had transformed into a hunting lodge and game farm. Chance loved his early morning five-mile bike ride to pick up the mail, and he wondered if any of the letters were actually for him. He relished the rare solitude and early morning glimpses of wildlife. By the time he got back, breakfast would most likely be ready. He could almost taste and smell the freshly baked damper and feel the warm mug of milky tea comforting his damp and chilly hands. It hadn't been raining when he left, but the rains were now fiercely competing with a weak and hazy sun. Home was warm and welcoming as he sat by the pot-bellied stove, his damp clothes steaming in the heat. While he drank his tea, the staff filtered in for breakfast and socialized briefly before setting out again for their tasks. Chance wasn't sure who Bruce, one of the tour guides, was speaking to when he mentioned that he needed a runner. He had always dreamed of being the boy sitting in the front of the truck and running after game for the hunters. Looking up with hope in his eyes, Chance saw that Bruce had chosen him -- he was going to be a runner.

Mark Piper's historical short story, Chance On Safari: Stock and Station, Book 1, grabs the reader from the opening paragraph which introduces Ironwood Station through the eyes of Chance, a thirteen-year-old, and doesn't let up until the last sentence -- and it left me wanting more stories about Chance and his life on an isolated Australian farm turned game ranch. Chance's world is circumscribed by the land, his family and the staff, though his imagination soars on the stories of the visitors who come through and the bits of news he overhears them discussing. Time stood still for me as I watched the dawn come up through Chance's eyes and heard the silence turn into the trilling of insects and songs of birds. Piper has a magical way with words especially when describing nature. Grange Wallis' illustrations fit the story perfectly and provide a focus for the world of imagination taking form before the reader's eyes. Chance's actual safari is a harrowing experience and one can’t help but feel for the disillusioned boy as he endures first a dismal, wet and itchy ride and then finds himself in a life-threatening situation. Chance on Safari: Stock and Station, Book 1 is a promising start to what could be an exceptional coming-of-age series. It’s most highly recommended.

Mary C. Blowers

Chance On Safari by Mark Piper is set in Australia. Out on Ironwood Station, a game park, there is little excitement, no shopping, not even frequent mail delivery, and the mailbox was five miles away. Chance is the name of a boy who longs to join the men and go hunting for wild boar and water buffalo. These animals are extremely dangerous and will chase humans and kill them, so this is a very risky venture and it’s natural that a child would not be allowed to participate. Chance was apparently an orphan as he lived with guardians. It’s not mentioned what happened to his parents. He entertained himself partially by trying to figure out strange expressions he heard from visitors, such as Hot Air Balloons. Ironwood Station was really out in the sticks.

One day the tour guides needed a runner, a boy to run ahead and see where the prey was. Chance happened to be in the kitchen for breakfast and he was asked. After a hearty breakfast of ham and eggs, he scrambled from the table to the truck where he would finally get to go out with the hunters. He encountered a wild boar and then realized he was too far from the truck to hear it. He fired a shot in the air to let them know where he’d found game, but that only made the boar charge. It’s a life and death struggle as the men approach and fire their guns.

Chance On Safari by Mark Piper is a delightful short story. I want to mention the drawings that illustrate the story. The illustrator, Grange Wallis, has a special talent for capturing the expressions of the characters, as does author Mark Piper for describing the surroundings in Australia. They should both continue to publish as many people would enjoy their work. This book might be especially suited for young adults or anyone who likes Western type stories.

Patricia Reding

Australian writer Mark Piper offers middle-grade readers a glimpse into everyday 1930s life at Ironwood Station, with Chance on Safari: Stock and Station Book 1. To make ends meet, Betty and Jim Huston, Chance’s guardians and family, turn a former cattle station into a stop for traveling international hunters. Guests visit from all over the world. Chance, nearly 13 years old now, hangs on their every word, and studies the station’s library encyclopedias, then dreams of far-off sights and adventures. But one day, Jim asks Chance to ride along, to act as a runner. As such, Chance will sprint ahead of the truck to let the hunters who ride in it — including the famed Sir Richard Lancefield — know if there are any water buffalo or wild boar ahead. Of course, Chance jumps at the opportunity. What happens when Chance happens upon a wild boar will have young readers’ hearts beating fast.

The Stock and Station series, including Chance on Safari, takes young readers back to days of old. These stories are sure to be enjoyed by young Australians, as well as by youthful adventurers from around the world. Having loosely based the series on details and stories that his grandfather told of the Depression era, Mark Piper provides a glimpse into the everyday lives of those of the time. Young readers looking for a quick read, or adults looking for stories for their middle-grade readers that include adventure, and that provide an educational twist, need look no further than Chance on Safari.

Lesa McKee

Chance on Safari (Stock and Station) by Mark Piper is book one in this adventure series. Land owner Jim Huskins decides to transform his vast cattle station into an African safari game park, complete with legendary tour guides and professional hunters brought in for the hunt. At the tender age of thirteen, Chance is fascinated by their work, and is excited to finally join in with ‘the big boys’ as a runner, not realizing he is being used as nothing more than a glorified errand boy. On the hunt, Chance’s positive opinion of his dream come true nosedives with the weather’s harsh conditions and through his own stark realizations. It’s only his first trip out, but the danger becomes all too real when one of the careless hunters puts Chance in harm’s way.

Mark Piper has come up with an intriguing tale, filled with detailed descriptions and colorful characters. Among them is young Chance who is at the heart of this story. He’s your typical boy, anxious to grow up and prove he’s worthy to hang out with the men. He starts out proud to be invited on the hunt, but when reality sets in, it’s too late to turn back. The hunt scene will have readers sitting on the edge of their seats as an out of control wild boar gives chase to Chance. Vivid illustrations allow the action to play out, while at other times they add charm, depth, and whimsy. Book one of Chance on Safari is a promising start to this adventurous series.