I absolutely loved this book. Rose is a pampered, but overly restricted girl living in Melbourne in 1900. Her mother insists on governesses, corsets aI absolutely loved this book. Rose is a pampered, but overly restricted girl living in Melbourne in 1900. Her mother insists on governesses, corsets and becoming a ‘proper lady’. Rose is not allowed to play cricket with her brother, not allowed to read exciting books or learn about geography or history and certainly not allowed to catch a tram or explore the more exciting stores of Melbourne.
That is, until her exciting Aunt Alice – a teacher – comes to stay. Alice had exciting ideas such as women being allowed to vote, being more involved in society and being able to use their brains. She takes Rose out on an adventure to a restaurant her mother (a member of the Temperance League) would never approve of, and a magical visit to Coles Arcade – to the disapproval of her mother. But will she ever be able to break free from the restrains that her mother places on her?
I adore this time period, so this book was always going to appeal. There were such big things going on in Australia at this time, with Federation looming and women beginning to gain power across the country (and in New Zealand). Rose is trying her best to break free of her mother’s restrictions, but with Alice’s arrival it really looks like there might be possibility of a change. I am really looking forward to reading more of this one and finding out what happens next!
This was probably my least favourite out of the four introductory books in the Our Australian Girl series, but it was still an enjoyable read. Letty’sThis was probably my least favourite out of the four introductory books in the Our Australian Girl series, but it was still an enjoyable read. Letty’s sister, Lavinia is heading out to start a new life in New South Wales, when Letty finds herself accidentally on the ship as well! The book mostly looks at the difficult journey to New South Wales, as well as introducing the odious Jemima and the helpful Abner who befriend Letty on the journey.
I think one of the reasons I didn’t like this one as much is that I really didn’t like a lot of the supporting characters and I found Letty to be pretty silly at times, like when she gave away her sister’s good pillow case, knowing how expensive it was, just to keep a friend. It also feels like bad things keep happening to Letty and her sister, and it begins to feel a bit overwrought at times, though hopefully, some of the complications would be resolved in later books.
This is probably a more unspoken story than the familiar convict tales that children learn about. The idea of packing up a whole life and sailing a difficult journey around the world to start a new life is a concept which fascinates me. Again, this would be a brilliant book for the classroom and would probably be appealing to a lot of boys as well as girls.
Meet Poppy is actually an introduction to the third girl and time period in the Our Australian Girl series (also including Grace, Letty and Rose). SetMeet Poppy is actually an introduction to the third girl and time period in the Our Australian Girl series (also including Grace, Letty and Rose). Set in 1864, we are introduced to Poppy, a young orphan who is living with her brother at the Bird Creek Mission. When her brother runs away and she discovers that she is to be sent to a family in Sydney, before the usual age of 12, she decides to pretend she is a boy and set out to find her brother.
I know Heidi loved this one for many reasons, including the setting. That would be one of my few grumbles with this series – all the stories centre around New South Wales and Victoria – it would be great to see more diversity in locations to include Queenland, Tasmania, South Australia or Western Australia. These areas seem to be missed in children’s historical fiction, which is one of the reasons Georgiana was a pleasant surprise.
Poppy is an incredibly likable character, even more than Grace. She’s brave and resourceful and takes pride in her achievements. There’s a lot of learning which could be connected to this book as well, from the Missions to Bushrangers and the Gold Rush – it was a busy time in Australian history and that is reflected in the book.
While it’s not my favourite of the books (I adore Meet Rose), I thoroughly enjoyed this and can’t wait to read what happens to Poppy next.
This is a really interesting ‘series’ (there are actually four groups of four books) for younger readers. Each series showcases one girl at a particulThis is a really interesting ‘series’ (there are actually four groups of four books) for younger readers. Each series showcases one girl at a particular point of Australian history. I got the 1808 (Grace) and 1864 (Poppy) books out of the library first, so I read them before reading the 1841 (Letty) and 1900 (Rose) books – however, so far I’ve only read the first book in each of the series!
Meet Grace introduces us to Grace, a young ‘mudlark’ who scavenges for things to sell from the mud of the River Thames. She lives with her harsh and abusive uncle, but soon finds herself in trouble with the law when she steals apples to feed a starving horse. Before long she finds herself on the way to New South Wales, another convict being sent to a faraway town.
Grace lives in horrific conditions, and the book doesn’t shy away from how hard it could be for a young girl like her. I wonder whether some children, living in a country which expects them to study until they’re at least seventeen, would find Grace’s circumstances to be a bit unbelievable. She has a strong interest in horses, something which I am sure will come into play in later books, and is incredibly sympathetic to the people and animals which have it worse than her.
One of the things I really liked about these books, is that they’re clearly appropriate for younger years, but engaging and well written enough for all readers to enjoy. They’re short, with larger text, but the stories are rich – making them particularly good for children with reading difficulties. These would have been an absolute hit in my classroom, and I would have easily recommended them for a wide range of students. They’d also be great for reading aloud, getting students involved in the time period.
Georgiana is a historical fiction about the real life botanist and early Western Australian settler, Georgiana Molloy. It follows her journey, and theGeorgiana is a historical fiction about the real life botanist and early Western Australian settler, Georgiana Molloy. It follows her journey, and the journey of another family who is settling along with them, as they travel to Western Australia, soon developing the town of Augusta. Although it briefly goes into her time near the Vasse River, most of the book concentrates on her time in Augusta.
While the subject of Georgiana Molloy is certainly fascinating, I found most of the book very tedious to read. There’s no doubt that it was an incredibly well researched book – but sometimes it felt like I was reading more facts than story. It also slipped uneasily between historical fiction and memoir for a lot of the book, which made it difficult to read, and quite wearing to the reader. I felt like I was constantly being told the same thing about Georgiana, though this did ease up by the end. Additionally, the story of the other family (which I assume was the fiction part of the story) felt quite over-dramatic and at odds with the story of Georgiana and her family.
Georgiana really was a remarkable woman. She took on a demanding role as Magistrate’s wife (and often Magistrate while her husband was away) and set up house in a brand new, challenging settlement. She experienced horrific losses, with one child dying soon after birth and her son dying after falling in a well. She had an extremely difficult time recovering after childbirth, but still managed to become a well regarded botanist. Her story is amazing, and I would love more Australian children to learn about her. Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be the book that will do that.
On a side note, Australia is not particularly good at providing good biographical books about notable people in our history. When we taught biographies to grade 7s in 2012, we desperately wanted to include a number of Australian choices for the students to write about. However, they were extremely limited in the research they could do – confined to websites and books which were incomplete or written for an adult audience. There’s a fabulous series of biographies for children from the United States – the Who Was . . . series – which tells the story of notable people in an engaging and entertaining fashion. It would be awesome to see Australian writers take on a project like this – and it would be a great way to share people like Georgiana Molloy.
(Disclaimer – I know the author through the internet)
Back in the olden days before I became a teacher, I completed an arts degree with a double major(Disclaimer – I know the author through the internet)
Back in the olden days before I became a teacher, I completed an arts degree with a double major in Ancient History. My real love was Ancient Athens (I even learned Ancient Greek), but I did have a certain fondness for the early empire.
Which, luckily for me, is what Love and Romanpunk is based around.
The book is part of the Twelve Planet series and consists of four short, related stories. In the first one, Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary, we are introduced to the background to our story, told by my favourite of all Roman women (I studied Nero a little, so spent way too long designing collapsible boats with other wayward students. Did I mention we drank a lot of wine in the Ancient History department?) It turns out that the twists and turns of the early Roman empire where not caused by revolution and jealousy and a certain fondness for horses alone. Instead, there were numerous creatures and beings, some of them members of the ruling family. While we learn about the Roman world, which is kind of as we knew it, we are being fed information which sets up the next three stories – including the introduction of Lamia – Roman vampires.
In Lamia Victoriana, we follow these creatures to Victorian times. We then slip forward in history to a Roman City built in the Australian outback in The Patrician, before heading into the future in Last of the Romanpunks. Each story builds on the last, and I must admit that I really feel like I should read the whole lot again so that I can really understand it even better.
I don’t read a huge amount of short stories, but I understand that it’s a delicate balancing act to create fleshed out characters, without getting bogged down in lengthy character exposition. I think Love and Romanpunk does an excellent job of doing this, building on characters that we ‘know’ and creating characters that are very easy to care about. I would easily want to read more about the different ‘worlds’ we are introduced to.
I really loved this book and I would recommend this book to history lovers, of course, but also to people who aren’t usually interested in speculative fiction, but would like to dip their toes in a bit. The format is a great way to be introduced to Australian speculative fiction, and I look forward to reading more of them. I believe Love and Romanpunk had sold out in the print form, but is easily found through Kindle or the Twelfth Planet Press website.
Time Travel seems to be a consistent theme in children’s fiction, a lot of the time serving as a device to turn the story into historical fiction whilTime Travel seems to be a consistent theme in children’s fiction, a lot of the time serving as a device to turn the story into historical fiction while still allowing for lots of exposition (since the character learns about the time period at the same time as the reader). This was fairly similar to other time travel books I’ve read (and I seem to have read quite a few!). Sam Sullivan is a nice enough kid, but he seems to find trouble wherever he goes. His parents have broken up, his father isn’t always reliable (there’s a strong history of gambling) and there’s never enough money. To make a bit extra, Sam works at the markets, but soon discovers that people play music for money. He tries it himself, playing his trumpet at a nearby monument, but suddenly finds himself being pulled back to Melbourne in 1900.
There’s a lot going on in this book and both 1900 and present day Melbourne are written quite vividly. It was a bit of a jolt when someone pointed out that the states hadn’t federated yet (that happened in 1901) and I appreciated that little piece of history snuck in, especially when there’s moments when you feel like 1900 wasn’t really that long ago. The story does drag a bit at the end of the book – it almost feels like the story has been told and completed, but there’s still more to go. That made it less appealing to me.
This is a good read for people who like historical fiction, especially Australian historical fiction. With Sam constantly finding himself in trouble, despite good intentions, it’s the kind of story which would appeal to some kids who don’t always read. I dare say it would make a very good read aloud book too.
This is, obviously, a book about the middle Bennet sister from Pride and Prejudice – the one who, along with Kitty, is most likely to be overlooked. TThis is, obviously, a book about the middle Bennet sister from Pride and Prejudice – the one who, along with Kitty, is most likely to be overlooked. Told from Mary’s point of view, it offers us some background to Mary’s personality and actions, while giving us another point of view of the Darcy/Bingly/Wickham events.
Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen books seem to the the flavour of the month at the moment. Although I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, I cannot claim to be the biggest Jane Austen reader, so there may be some things which alluded me. But it was lovely to see such well known, almost mythic, events told through the eyes of another person. Sometimes, though, this seemed a little neat – such as when Mary knew of Wickham’s deceitfulness long before Lydia ran off with him.
The other thing that feels a little odd is when Mary sets sail to the colony of New South Wales to meet up with her (lower class) fiance. I can’t see Mary marrying out of ‘rank’ like that, and the scenes in Sydney feel a little tacked on, like the author wasn’t quite sure where she wanted to end the book. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining and easy read – perfect for a summer holiday, or for reading on a cold day with a warm cup of tea!
This was a thoroughly enjoyable book, though it's hard to pin down exactly why. It's the story of four children, Vinnie, siblings Kathleen and Joey anThis was a thoroughly enjoyable book, though it's hard to pin down exactly why. It's the story of four children, Vinnie, siblings Kathleen and Joey and tall gangly Dodds. The four of them are evacuated to the country during the second world war, and find themselves in the midst of another battle with the local people.
The story is fairly formulaic - especially if you have a fondness for evacuation stories and you've read a few before. There's mean teachers and Famous Five-esque crooks and mean bullies who turn out alright in the end. However it is an enjoyable and satisfying read and would be a great introduction to World War Two for unfamiliar children....more
This was a truly lovely book, one which I think my students will really enjoy.
It opens in Afghanistan with Fadi, a 12 year old. Fadi's father has, thrThis was a truly lovely book, one which I think my students will really enjoy.
It opens in Afghanistan with Fadi, a 12 year old. Fadi's father has, through a series of events, become an enemy of the Taliban and Fadi, his parents, his older sister and younger sister must flee. Luckily, Fadi's father studied in the USA, and they have friends and family there (differentiating this book from other Afghanistan stories like Boy Overboard, Mahtab's Story or Parvana). The only problem is actually leaving Afghanistan so they can access the assistance they need. Unfortunately, while trying to board the truck which will take them out of the country, Fadi's little sister is lost among the crush of people and the approaching Taliban.
The rest of the story deals with Fadi, his parents and older sister trying to make a life in the USA, while still trying to find his younger sister. All the while, you realize that it's August/September 2001, and things are about to change.
I'd link this book with the already mentioned books, along with Does My Head Look Big in This? ...more