When the new boy – Zach – starts school, he is put in the empty desk net to Ben and Ben is told to look after him. But Ben can’t get Zach to talk to him, and neither can anyone else. Zach follows Ben around and even does what Ben tells him, but he won’t speak to him.
When Ben invites Zach to come to the national park with him, the pair stumble across a poacher trying to trap the birds in the park. As they try to track the poachers’ movements, the boys find themselves caught up in more trouble than either can handle. Zach needs to speak and to overcome his fears if they are to survive.
Set Free is a fast paced adventure for kids, but it is also much more. Zach’s trauma stems from his experiences as a refugee coming to Australia on a leaky boat and being interred in an immigrant detention centre. Ben has had trauma of his own – his best friend James has been knocked off his bike by a truck and killed. Both boys have to put these experiences behind them as they form their new freindship and tackle the dramas that unfold in the national park.
Part of the new Breakers series from Macmillan Education, Set Free is a thought-provoking read suitable for private reading as well as classroom use.
Set Free, by June Keir, illustrated by Dion Hamill
Macmillan Education, 2004