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Playing Beatie Bow

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  4,128 ratings  ·  229 reviews
Distraught over her parents' separation, Abigail follows a strange child called Beatie Bow and time slips back a hundred years where she becomes involved with an Australian shopkeeper's family.
Paperback, 188 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Barn Owl Books (first published 1980)
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Avni This book is the total opposite of bad!
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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,128 ratings  ·  229 reviews

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I can't believe how long it took me to get through this book. It's only 200 pages and I *loved* it as a kid. But rereading it as an adult in a world where YA is a thing? This is...odd.

Admittedly, this book is older than I am - it was published in 1980 - and it's essentially a YA book that was written in an era when books featuring teenagers were shoved in with children's books. I remember reading it in year 4, and...I'm kind of astonished anybody let me read this at the age of 9.

The gist of th
☼♄Jülie 

Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park
and beautifully narrated by Kate Hood

I have been listening to this on audio just a chapter or two at a time and loved it!

The setting is in Sydney, Australia, in a well worn place known as The Rocks which is an historic area in the centre of Sydney City and close to the harbour.
Built/chiselled from local sandstone and hand made bricks by some of our earliest settlers, most of whom were convict labour, its cobbled streets remain an awe inspiring reminder of our uniq
Jun 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
As an Australian my excuse for not having read this before is that I grew up in England and therefore did not read this at school as so many people did. I really love Ruth Park's books especially as I know Sydney well and can visualize the places she writes about. Playing Beatie Bow is set in the Rocks area of Sydney and the references to local places are wonderful. Add to this the fact that the book features time travel which is one of my favourite things and you can see it has to be a winner f ...more
I still love this book (it has been my fourth time now). Abigail is a kind of anti-heroine, but her personality is interestingly multi-faceted, Beatie and the rest of the Bow Family are so entertainingly vivid and Abigail's time-travel-experience is believably painted in loving detail (up to the accent of the Scottish immigrants and their Glasgow Marble patterned woolen stockings).
There is no denying that the ending is cotton candy pink; it successfully underlines the two - disputable - messages
Spirited Stardust
Apr 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I will forever remember the moment I first encountered this book. After a particularly mundane school day I plonked myself down in the backseat of our car and prepared for the drive home. However, instead of starting the engine my mother turned around and said, "I've got a small surprise for you. I was at a bookshop today and thought you might enjoy this." She then proceeded to hand me a copy of Playing Beatie Bow. Getting a book as a surprise gift truly made my day, I was almost giddy with anti ...more
Delightful. Revisiting my childhood in the sweetest way.
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Fourteen-year-old Abigail is having a rough time. Her parents separated four years ago when her father left the family for a young girlfriend, but now he wants to reunite with his wife and move from Sydney to Norway. But her life takes a truly unexpected turn when she sees a group of younger children playing a game she's never encountered before, called 'Beatie Bow.' Another odd girl watches from the shadows -- and when Abby follows her, she finds herself transported a hundred years into the pas
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Fourteen year old Abigail Kirk lives with her divorced mother in a high-rise apartment in one of Sydney's oldest suburbs, The Rocks, right below the giant Harbour Bridge and near the Opera House. Over the summer holidays, she helps at her mother's antiques shop and relieves her neighbour Justine of the burden of her two small children, Vincent ("the high-rise monster"), and four-year-old Natalie, prone to fevers and fears and forever being bullied by her unpleasant brother. Abigail takes them to ...more
when I've had a couple of drinks and am trekking up the sandstone steps by the Argyle Cut to go to the Glenmore, I sing to myself "oh Mudda, oh Mudda, what's that, what's that; it's Beatie Bow, risen from the dead!" and chuckle. I loved this book when I was young, it's given me a whole new way to look at the city around me, and to think about history (aside from its romance and strong, appealing characters). I think about the stockings in Abigail's mother's shop, and how Abigail knows that the p ...more
May 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I remember my trip to Sydney on an excursion, more than the book. This is a classic Aussie book, excellent for primary school students.
Amanda Witt
This was a re-read to assist with a novel I'm currently writing.
Very believable situation on time travel back to the past and life in those days.
Heather Twidle
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I remember crying over this book at school. It's pretty dark for a novel aimed at young adults, but Ruth Park is so deft at weaving the strands of her story that it's very difficult to put down, even as an adult. Much of this story is a curious blend of history and fantasy, but the themes she explores through the eyes of her out of place lead character - family, fitting in, first love, first loss - are thoroughly modern.
Nadia King
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over 30 years ago, Playing Beatie Bow fell into my hands (probably through my school or local library), and I was enthralled. Last weekend, I picked it up again and my heart still pounded at the same points and I had to blink away tears before my family spied me crying over this gorgeous little book.

Playing Beatie Bow was first published in 1980 and I remember being of similar age to Abigail, the fourteen-year old protagonist when I first read the story. The story is set in Sydney in the 1980s.
Saturday's Child
The funny thing about this one was that I loved it when I read it as a child, but re-reading it is an adult I found that it had lost a bit of its “magic”. It is however still one of those classic novels that needs to be read.
Judith Johnson
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to the members of my small Twitter book club I came to Ruth Park late in life, reading her Harp in the South trilogy first, then the first volume of her autobiography, and now this. I think I would have loved this book as a child, and enjoyed it as an adult. Clearly Ruth Park was a writer who loved, above all, to tell stories, and all her books seem to show her belief, I guess, that the suffering of those less economically fortunate, and joys, and endurance too, are worth illumating. I lo ...more
Kerri Duff
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely magical story. I loved following Abby on her strange little journey into the past. I'm very glad I stumbled across this book.
Anna Ciddor
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous evocative historical novel that also has a great message. Listened on audio. This was in the Junior section at my library. Should be YA
Jo Rothbaum
Jul 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I won this book in year 8 primary school and it was a real treat. I love the imagery and this was my first experience of reading about a past time period.
Emily Parker
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was definitely an interesting read. Partly because of the story itself, but also partly because of the reason I was reading it in the first place. My mum read this book when she was in year 8 (so around 1983) and studied it for school. It was really cool to be reading what would have been the equivalent of Holes for my mum. I haven't ever really read any books from around this time, only much before or much after. There were some... questionable moments, but not enough for me to say th ...more
An Odd1
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Abby Kirk, flat-chested lonely unsociable 14, "raged and sulked" p 23 when mother Jan 36 wants to rejoin unfaithful husband in Norway "love is a thing you have to experience before you know how powerful it can be" p 19. Abby "dumbstruck" p 163 repeats mother's advice. If theme is 'power of love' (cue music "and now the violins" p 26), vanquishes time, why is title about career-driven spinster?

Emphasis on working-class lifestyle history, geography, child grows up, same as
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
I LOVED this book growing up! I would have given it 5 starts then. I still love it but only 4.5 stars as an adult.
I remember visiting the Rocks soon after reading it and running through the alleyways with my sister.
Every time I have returned to the Rocks since I am so disappointed how touristy and developed it is.
Mmm I am sounding old. 😳
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read this years ago but was just reminded of it when I was writing a review for "Crow Country". A very good children's story that was made into a good movie as well. It is a bit of a children's classic here in Australia, and for good reason.
Jade Maree
Can see why this is a classic but would have loved it more 15 years ago.
Three and a half stars. The working-class Victorian setting was well done. The modern-day story was okay, but I never really connected with the main character.
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Quick Kids' book read--Australian history and time travel. Fun and lively.
Yvonne Boag
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australian
Most books I loved as a child/teenager failed to live up to expectations when reread as an adult. This proved to be one of the exceptions and I enjoyed it so much. Maybe it was the location, maybe it was the characters and probably it was the author's talent that made this book so exceptional.
Nov 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I think this was my absolute favourite book as a teenager! I have read it so many times before, but I recently re-read it for the first time in years (for book club) and was not disappointed. I still think it's a really great book. The plot is tight. The concept of time travel is nothing new but it's written well and never seems cliched or far-fetched. The action is nicely paced, interspersed with slower passages and character development. There's enough detail woven in about everyday life in 18 ...more
Kirsty Leishman
I found myself teaching this to Year 7 students on my recent teaching practicum. The associated assessment asked the students to reflect on the nebulous topic of Australian values. Now, if we're looking for undue political influence on the Australian curriculum then so-called Australian values are pretty much front and centre of the conservative party agenda in this country, and it usually means an exclusive, pro-Christian line. Thankfully, the students in our schools are far more diverse than t ...more
I was recently informed that because I had never read Playing Beatie Bow - apparently unlike every other Australian child since 1980 - my life was lacking. When Penguin's Australian Children's Classics series was released, I bought a copy and can now say that I wish I had the chance to read it as a child, because it is most definitely a tale I would have loved dearly.

Playing Beatie Bow tells the story of Abigail (formerly Lynette) Kirk. Like Erica Yurken, she's more of an anti-heroine, or unlike
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Ruth Park was a New Zealand-born author, who spent most of her life in Australia. She was born in Auckland, and her family later moved to Te Kuiti further south in the North Island of New Zealand, where they lived in isolated areas.

During the Great Depression her working class father worked on bush roads, as a driver, on relief work, as a sawmill hand, and finally shifted back to Auckland as counc