It began when Mrs O’Grady handed back their history tests and Tommy got a big fat two out of ten. She frowned at him and said, ‘Tommy, see me at lunch time.’
That was bad news. Mrs O’Grady was nice but she was strict. Tommy was dreading lunchtime.
‘But history’s boring,’ Tommy tried to explain later, when Mrs O’Grady kept him back. …
… ‘It’s only boring if you’re not using your imagination,’ said Mrs O’Grady.
Tommy is struggling to connect with history. It seems to be all facts and figures and that’s boring. His teacher suggests that he needs to connect more by using his imagination. As a consequence of his poor history test results, she gives him a book to read during lunch break. This is not how he planned to spend his lunch break and he’s a bit cross. He’s missing out on donuts! When his plan to get the last donut goes badly wrong, Tommy finds himself in more trouble than he imagined. And to make things even worse, he’s headed off to spend school holidays with his grandfather. Tommy is struggling to make sense of history, because it feels too boring. It also feels like he is being punished unjustly. But his trip to his grandfather’s farm is wilder than he expects when he is transported back to gold rush times. Now he is living history and it’s anything but boring. There are occasional full-page illustrations scattered throughout. Titled chapter pages hint at the action to come.
Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy is a new series of early chapter books for independent readers. Part of each book is set in a contemporary country town, and part takes Tommy back to early times when bushrangers roamed the countryside. In this first instalment, Tommy is transported back in time and meets Captain Thunderbolt. He experiences what it is to live the life of a bushranger. It’s certainly exciting but not necessarily anything like he might have imagined. There are moral and ethical challenges he must confront in the context of this historical world that link to his own life. Recommended for independent readers in lower-mid primary school.
Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy 1: Shoot-out at the Rock, Jane Smith
Big Sky Publishing 2016