'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 27 November 2011

Review: Amazing Grace - An Adventure at Sea

Praised as Australia’s Grace Darling, teenager Grace Bussell was an ordinary girl who became a hero when she helped to rescue passengers and crew of the steamship Georgette, which ran aground near Margaret River in Western Australia in 1876.

Amazing Grace: An Adventure at Sea combines a gripping story with historical facts, images and information from the time of the disastrous journey of the Georgette in late 1876. The story creates a fascinating image of Australian pioneering life and the hardships of sea travel in the late 1800’s.

While the factual sections are quite interesting by themselves, the connection with the story of Grace, her family and the passengers and crew of the Georgette creates an extra element of fascination for readers. Fact pages include newspaper excerpts about the shipwreck and Grace’s bravery, letters, information about sea travel and pioneer life, information about early settlers in Western Australia in general and the Bussell family in particular, and even a colonial Christmas pudding recipe.

The story is accompanied by a range of drawings, paintings, newspaper clippings and photographs from the National Library of Australia archives depicting actual scenes and events from the story as well as general images of late 19th century life.

The introduction to the story explains that while official documents record the bare facts of an event, the personal recollections and eyewitness accounts add colour and detail. These details add an element to the story that makes it much more compelling, especially for younger readers, and the author has provided a wonderful balance between the adventure of the story and the historical background.

Amazing Grace is a combination of documented fact, eyewitness account and general knowledge of the late 1870s presented in a wonderful story that is sure to appeal to primary school-aged readers and older. The book is perfectly suited as a classroom resource for studies of Australian settlers and pioneering life for students in late primary school.

Title: Amazing Grace: An Adventure at Sea
Author: Stephanie Owen Reeder
Publisher: National Library of Australia, $29.95 RRP
Publication Date: 1 November 2011
Format: Hard cover with dust jacket
ISBN: 9780642277435
For ages: 9+
Type: Historical fiction, Junior Non-Fiction