grew up in
always had a keen interest in children with challenging behaviours, and worked
for a number of years with a wilderness-enhanced program aimed at turning around
young peopleís lives. This formed the basis of her PhD. As a teacher in this
program she was able to involve herself in many of her recreational passions
including abseiling, rock-climbing, wilderness trekking, canyoning and canoeing.
In recent years she has developed a particular interest in family history and
history in general.
Dell is also
a part-time journalist and has been published by a number of editors in
the outdoors, especially the wilderness. In her younger years she was a keen
swimmer and an A grade squash player. She now enjoys all outdoor pursuits and
tries to play golf regularly. She is
married with two grown-up children and lives on the south coast of
This is her first childrenís book.
Read these reviews:
Krisí mother has just moved to a new job in the small town of Coolongawong. Kris is determined to dislike everything about her new home, but only until she meets three new friends Matt, Ben and Nicky. Together, in their Grade 5 classroom with their fabulous teacher Mr Mac, they discover that magic can happen with the help of an old floorboard and some magic words.
The magic transports them back to fascinating places and times in history and they get to meet some of their heroes from the past and find out that sometimes the romantic notion we have of history disguises some very difficult and traumatic times. I would strongly recommend this book to the 10 to 12 year olds as an easy, fun read. It is an outstanding book of its kind.
Reviewer for the Childrenís Book Council of Australia
Reading Time Vol 52, No 4, November 2008
Brand brings history alive through her vivid characterisation and descriptive language in this novel. The action begins almost immediately, seizing the readerís attention. In the course of the tale a group of friends are repeatedly transported back through time. This clever book allows us to visualise the landscapes, clothing, homes and lifestyles typical of the periods visited. The author skilfully gives her audience a taste of a wide variety of historical events, places and personalities, including ancient Egypt, Hiroshima, the Eureka Stockade incident and the eruption of Mt Vesuvius. This book is sure to whet studentsí appetite and inspire a desire to discover more about the history of our world. It could be used both as a fiction text, and as a supplement for historical learning experiences.
Lee Doyle, Matthew Pearce Public School
Curriculum K-12 Directorate
Scan Magazine, Vol 27, No 3, August 2008
User Level: Stage 3 Stage 4
much ever changed in Coolongewong. That was, until Kris and her mum moved into
town. Then such strange things started to happen that nothing was ever the same
again. At least not for Kris. And not for the three new friends, Matt, Ben and
Nicky, whom she was about to meet.
three friends had been together ever since they had been in nappies.
Coolongewong was such a small town that they had been in the same class through
pre-school, kinder and ever since. Now they were about to start Grade 5 at the
primary school and were looking forward to having Mr Mac as their new teacher.
Not that he was much to look at. He was really old, with silvery-grey, curly
hair that grew out of his head like saggy coils on an old mattress. He had
wrinkles all over his brown arms and face and he wore thick, coke-bottle glasses
on his nose. But his mind was razor-sharp and all his past students just adored
him. His real name was Mr McIlquham but everyone just called him Mr Mac. With a
name like that, it was understandable. Nobody could even pronounce his real
name, let alone spell it.
had been at their school for nearly forever and the kids all agreed that he was
a wicked teacher. His last yearís fifth had been the envy of the school. The
word was that he did fun stuff in his classroom and took his class out into the
playground to do special things, like building forts and castles, playing
pirates and so on. But best of all, even his ordinary lessons were supposed to
be fun. He told exciting stories in history and made jokes all through maths Ė
as unlikely as that may sound.
wasnít too sure that school could ever be fun, but he was looking forward to
having Mr Mac as a teacher anyway. Ben didnít like school much. He really only
came because his two best friends were there Ė and because he had to. He tried
hard to avoid any deep thinking whenever he could, mostly leaving that to his
mate, Matt. Ben just followed along. Matt was the thinker, the one who always
thought things out before he did them. Ben was much happier kicking a footy
around or playing cricket.
was funny that Matt and Ben were such good mates, as they were dead opposites as
far as looks went as well. Matt was tall and thin, with short curly hair and
soft grey eyes. Heíd look at you with those eyes and you could just tell
sometimes that he was far away in his own thoughts. Ben, on the other hand, was
small and tough with black hair and flashing, dark brown eyes. He was a doer,
not a thinker. He was a champion at all sports. It didnít matter which one.
Even if Ben had never played a game before, heíd pick it up really quickly and
soon be the best in the class.
eyes were dark brown too. Her real name was Nicole but nobody ever called her
that. Unless her dad got really mad at her, but that rarely happened. She had
curly brown hair and a wide flat nose. She never needed sunscreen and could stay
out in the sun all day long and not burn. Nicky was a great mate too. She was
fun to be around and the boys found it hard to remember sometimes that she was
only a girl. She could run and swim and tackle as hard as any bloke in a game of
footy. Nickyís mum had died soon after she was born and her dad had raised
her. He was a Koori. His name was Mr Maher and he worked in the
Ben liked that too, as Ben didnít have a dad of his own. No, thatís not
entirely true. He did have one, but he lived in the city and Ben hadnít seen
him for five or so years. It hurt him that his dad forgot his birthdays and
never rang him up. He wanted to see him. He wanted a dad. Mostly he lied to
people and just told them he didnít have a father. But Matt knew the truth. He
also knew how hurt Ben felt and so he never talked about it or brought the
subject up. Ben was grateful for that.
had a mum and a dad, and two pesky little sisters who were forever getting what
they wanted by whining and carrying on. Matt hated them. Well, not exactly
hated, but certainly didnít want them around him all the time. He liked to
escape after school and sometimes he met Nicky and Ben down by the river. He
liked to swim with his friends and fish by himself when they werenít around.
He wasnít exactly a loner but he did enjoy his own company at times. Fishing
gave him time to think. And thinking was great fun. He loved history and most of
all he liked to imagine he lived in times long past, at one time being a Knight
of the Round Table at Camelot, or Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, or even a
pirate on the high seas.
a long time ago he found out that he couldnít share these mental adventures
with Ben, as much as he would have liked to, because Ben didnít seem to have
too much of an imagination. If
heíd mention Ďhigh seasí to Ben, Ben would think heíd be talking about
the king tides on the coast at Christmas time when he went on holidays with his
mum. Nicky was better. She could be his Queen Guinevere or his Maid Marian. She
loved the make-believe and they could talk together for hours about how it would
have been to be alive then and the adventures they would have had. Little did
they know then what was going to happen to them that year at school. Their
dreaming and make-believe was kindergarten stuff compared to what was to come.
The long, hot, Australian summer was still far from over and school was about to go back when the fourth person in this story, Kris, arrived in town with her mum. Nickyís dad had mentioned a few weeks back that he was getting a new boss out at Wollendidgee, but no-one had expected it to be a woman. Mrs Foster took up her new post and quickly got the thumbs up from the staff at the national park. Nickyís dad liked her a lot. But her daughter Kristen was a bit of a mystery. They knew she had arrived, but nobody had seen her about. She didnít stick her nose outside the door from the time of her arrival until the first day of school. And they didnít know then that that was because she had a huge dose of the sulks.
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