Imprint: WALKER BOOKS AUST
Distributor: Harper Collins Distribution Services for Australia and New Zealand
August 1, 2016
There have been many accounts of the Chinese coming to Australia in the gold rush era both for adults and children but this is the first I have read which explores the history of some of these worthy migrants making their arduous journey to get to those diggings.
While this is historical fiction there are so many parallels to contemporary issues surrounding the plight of refugees risking all for a better life and the treatment which many of them receive.
“ Janeen Brian has vividly and realistically brought to life 1850s’ Chinese and Australian culture, and themes of prejudice, racism, exploitation, desperation and coping with change are explored.”
Yong’s father is Headman of his village, widowed and living with young children and an aged grandmother when he persuades a group of his fellows to join him on what they hope to be their salvation. He takes a reluctant oldest son, Yong, with him. They are swindled and beset by troubles from their initial ship voyage to the trek to the goldfields by tricksters who see them merely as objects of scorn. The contrast between the honour, respect for others and cultural values held by this group and that of those they encounter is poignant and terrible. Yet, they persevere in their quest, most especially Yong who struggles with his feelings of resentment and disloyalty towards his father and his feelings of inadequacy in the face of such a monumental challenge.
Beautifully written, with short chapters and a plot laced with danger and daring, this has strong links to curriculum (particularly Key Idea: Australians of Asian heritage have influenced Australia’s history and continue to influence its dynamic culture and society.)
If you are looking for a new novel for a class reading in Upper Primary or as a read aloud to accompany a unit of work this would be a superb choice.
It is also bound to very popular with Middle to Upper readers of historical fiction.
Highly recommended for readers aged around 10 years upwards.
Update: New trailer here