There is something we don’t understand,
as if the magic has gone out of spring,
as if we were just kids,
grubby in old clothes,
playing in weeds,
with a dog that doesn’t scare strangers
and cows that want to die
of making milk.
For Ruby and her siblings, a shower of rain means the emergence of the marshmallow weed, lush and green and a wonderful place for building tunnels and playing games. But the rain isn’t enough to stave off the drought, which is slowly but surely sapping the life from the family farm. As the marshmallow grows and calves are born, the family struggle to keep the farm going, but soon it becomes obvious that the herd must be reduced to make ends meet.
As the family battle to see a way forward, Ruby’s spirit keeps her searching for a solution. She will make a difference.
Star Jumps is a poignant verse novel about the impact of rural drought, but it is also something more – a story of family togetherness and of bonds which are strengthened by hardship. Whilst the family struggle, they are also able to support each other and to recognise how hardship impacts on each family member. The children look for ways to ease pressure on their parents, and on each other, and the parents, in spite of stress are patient and honest with their children.
Marwood’s verse is perfect for such a tale, with the first person voice of Ruby, the youngest of the family, a choice which enables young readers to experience first hand the impact of drought on rural families.
Star Jumps, by Lorraine Marwood
Walker Books, 2009