The sun was rising when Billy Stone left his family sleeping in their swags and set of for Black Hills Station. The station was getting ready for a cattle muster, and Bill was the best drover around. It was a clear morning, and the chatter of birds filled the air.
It’s an ordinary day for Billy when he sets out to Black Hills Station for the upcoming cattle muster. He’s a skilled drover and comfortable making his way through this challenging landscape. But this trip is going to be extraordinary, even before he reaches the station. When he stops at a waterhole to fill his water bag, Billy discovers a silver gun. He buries the bones he finds with the gun and determines to discover how they came to be there. There are still prospectors around and Billy learns about the hold that gold has over these men, past and present. Gentle watercolour images add to the wonder and mystery of this country.
Dead Man’s Gold is an outback story, an adventure, a treasure hunt, all rolled into one. It’s also a story about doing the right thing. Billy is a hero in the mould of old Western stories. He’s travelling alone, and overcomes every setback man or nature throws at him. His moral core is strong, although he’s not above a little mischief. He’s open, honest and very skilful. But he’s also prepared to learn from an old timer who shares his gold-mining secrets. Boys particularly will respond to this laid-back tale of adventure and mystery. Stories of the skills of Aboriginal stockmen are legend around campfires and on stations. Dead Man’s Gold brings one of these stories to a broader audience. Recommended for mid-primary readers.
Dead Man’s Gold, Michael Torres ill Sharyn Egan
Magabala Books 2010
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
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