AUTHOR = JACKIE FRENCH
GENRE = HISTORICAL FICTION, RACISM, INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS, FAMILY
INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 8
Set during the time of Australia’s early settlement, this story begins in 1788. Nanberry is a young Aboriginal boy enjoying his traditional way of life, until his family and tribe is all but destroyed by disease (probably caught from the new white settlers). Surgeon White rescues the lad and not only saves his life but also, he decides to adopt him, as he has no family of his own. Nanberry soon learns enough English to act as a translator for Governor Phillip. He learns to wear English clothes and eat English food, he learns to respect the white culture and some of its citizens whilst always having a love for his own tribal way of life. At times these cultures pull him in different directions, especially when there are conflicts between the local tribes and the white settlers.
Whilst Jackie French has undertaken vast research before writing this story (and she provides useful notes and references at the end of the book for interested readers) this novel is always an engaging story rather than a history lesson. Many of the characters are real people (including Nanberry himself) but Jackie French certainly brings them to life. Nanberry is a thoughtful and interesting young boy, his adopted father the Surgeon White is well meaning but unusual in many respects (few other families had a possum as a pet!). So readers are sure to enjoy reading about their life journeys and learning more about what life was really like in the early days of Australian white settlement.
It is no surprise that this book has been shortlisted, CBCA Book of the Year, Younger Readers (2012)
Highly Recommended (dma) *****