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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Review: Kerenza - A New Australian

Kerenza isn’t happy about leaving her home in Cornwall and emigrating to Australia. Her parents tell her that Australia offers potential for a much better life, but Kerenza isn’t so sure. Moving to Australia means a perilous sea journey and leaving behind everything that is familiar and dear, including her older sister and grandmother.

Australia seems so vast and strange when Kerenza and her family arrive. Everything is different and the wonderful future they imagine is only possible if they are willing to work hard to clear land and build everything they need. Everything about their daily life is challenging and Kerenza is sure that the Mallee will never feel like home.

This wonderful series introduces readers to girls from the early years of Australia’s settlement and Federation. Kerenza and her family arrive in Australia in 1911. Through Kerenza’s story, readers learn about the hardships of farming life in those early years and the work required to provide meals and perform everyday household tasks like washing clothes. We learn about food, schooling, family, hobbies and friendships as Kerenza writes home to her sister and thinks about her new life in Australia.

Author Rosanne Hawke creates a character that modern readers can relate to. Kerenza is confused about friendships, worried about her family and frustrated that she can’t do the things she loves. Through her experiences readers learn about the very different expectations for boys and girls in the early 1900s as well as some of the cultural prejudices experienced at the time.

Rosanne Hawke offers an engaging and interesting story that entertains as well as informs. The depiction of the Australian outback and the lives of the early farming families is fascinating, as are the brief glimpses of Kerenza’s previous life in Cornwall.

Kerenza and the other titles in the ‘A New Australian’ series bring to life the experiences of early settlers for modern children through characters they can relate to. Highly recommended for children with an interest in Australian history and historical fiction in general.

Title: Kerenza - A New Australian
Author: Rosanne Hawke
Publisher: Scholastic, $15.99 RRP
Publication Date: April 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781742990606
For ages: 8+
Type: Middle Fiction

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