Song of the Wild by Allan W. Eckert – 1980

This book was described on the Project Wombat list, and to my surprise we had it at the library (it hadn’t circulated since 1994, but it’s a memorial so we kept it anyway). The concept is fascinating – a boy can project his consciousness into any animal, bird, or insect, and share its experience – but the writing doesn’t do the idea justice. It’s a strange book – it should fit into the tradition of great fantasy fiction like the animal parts of The Sword in the Stone, but it’s actually on the dry side. Caleb’s life in the human world is downer realistic fiction, and his experiences in the animal kingdom don’t feel involving. It’s partly the distant third person narration. The overall impression is Mark Trail come to life. Apparently it was pitched as an adult novel, but it falls between two stools – it’s not involving enough for teens, but it doesn’t feel like a standard novel either. I’m glad I read it once.

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