Across the Dark Sea, by Wendy Orr

The half-moon came out, its crescent of light shining in the calm sea.
It shone on the soldiers who burst out of the woods, and on the sampans racing up the river to hide.
It shone on the shore where Ma waited with Mai, while the fishing boat with Ba and Trung sailed out to cross the sea to Australia, 6000 kilometres away.

It is 1978. Trung, his sister Mai and their mother live together in Vietnam. Their father has been in prison for two years, because he was a doctor for the army that lost the war. In the dead of night Trung, Mai and Ma make their way to the beach where they are briefly reunited with Ba. Then, in the mad rush to get aboard boats which are their chance to leave Vietnam, the family is separated – Trung and Ba make it aboard, but Ma and Mai have been left behind.

After a long and dreadful journey, Trung and his father arrive in Australia, where they begin their new life, but both of them have challenges to face, living in a strange country with a strange language. The biggest challenge of all is missing those they left behind.

Across the Dark Sea is a junior novel which shares one boy’s story of coming to Australia as a refugee. Because the issue is humanised through the endearing character of Trung, children will be able to better understand some of the challenges both of getting to Australia and of building a new life here.

Making Tracks is a new series of junior novels produced by the National Museum of Australia Press, presenting history to primary school aged children through accessible stories. Each story is written by a well known Australian author, and based around an artefact from the National Museum’s collection.

A wonderful little book.

Across the Dark Sea, by Wendy Orr
National Museum of Australia Press, 2006