Just then, Jack discovered a sodden parcel wedged between the plane’s ribs.
He tore off the string binding and red wax seals. Inside was a bloated leather wallet, bursting with small packages wrapped in tissue. He emptied the contents of one into his calloused hands. What he saw stole his breath away …
As a plane prepares to ferry Dutch refugees out of Java to escape war-torn Java, the captain is passed a valuable package to carry to safety. But the plane is attacked, and crash-lands, the passage temporarily forgotten in the quest for survival. When Jack Palmer, a sailor and beachcomber, comes across the abandoned wreck of the plane he can’t help but be curious about what he might find on board. What he does find is beyond anything he could imagine.
Diamond Jack, the first title in the new History Mysteries series by Mark Greenwood, is a junior novel exploring the events surrounding the crash of a Dakota aircraft and subsequent disappearance of a parcel of diamond on board. Using the known facts and people involved, interwoven with a fictionalised version of what might have happen, the story provides an intriguing glimpse into the past. Young readers will be drawn into the mystery as they also view and learn about a chapter of Australian war history.
With historical photographs, maps and notes including a timeline, this is history children can connect with.
History Mysteries: Diamond Jack, by Mark Greenwood
Penguin Random House, 2017
She came so close I could see a mole above her lip. She spat/ A glob landed on the window in front of my face.
‘Bloody Japs!’ she said, shaking her fist.
The train groaned as it moved away. The woman became smaller till she was no more than a pale slip, but I could still see her face. Eyes narrowed, mouth tight – her features twisted with hate.
It is 1942 and Japan has entered the second war against the allies. Tomokazu Ibaraki, who has been working as a doctor in Broome, finds himself a prisoner of war, interned with other Japanese men in remote South Australia. Here he works in the infirmary and lives in close quarters with men of Japanese heritage with a range of backgrounds\, including a group of men who were born in Australia and see themselves as Australian. He finds friends but he is also confronted with the difficulties of a life in confinement, and with the dilemma of which men are actually his friends, and which have darker sides to their natures.
While he deals with his present, Dr Inaraki must also confront his past, a past peppered with personal tragedy and dilemmas created by promises he made. Coming to Australia was supposed to offer a chance for redemption – to leave that life behind and build something new, but events in the internment camp force him to revisit things he would rather forget.
After Darkness, the winner of this year’s Vogel Award, is a haunting debit novel about friendship, loyalty, and the promises. Ibaraki is a man of honour who is believably flawed in his inability to find a way through difficult situations he finds himself in, yet is ultimately a likeable character with whom it is easy to sympathise.
Set amidst the backdrop of World War II, and the years prior, the story offers an insight into historical events with which many readers would be unfamiliar. A haunting read.
After Darkness, by Christine Piper
Allen & Unwin, 2014
Available from good bookstores and online.
I live in a place where the sand is smooth and
turtles nest on Cable beach.
I live in a place where the sun sets over the Indian Ocean.
My home Broome.
When she was eight years old, Tamzyne Richardson wrote a poem about Broome and all the things that she loved about her home town. Local artist Bronwyn Houston took the poem and developed a community project whereby she worked with young local artists to illustrate Tamzyne’s poem. The result is a beautiful picture book which is alive with all the magic of Broome.
Each spread includes one stanza of the poem, brought to life by a scene made up of painted backgrounds and individual components contributed by various of the young artists to create a pleasing, eclectic whole. There are also facts about different aspects of Broome on every page. A really wonderful feature is the focus on the multicultural society in Broome and, particularly, the culture of the Yawuru Aboriginal people, the traditional owners of the area.
My Home Broome is both educational and entertaining.
My Home Broome, by Tamzyne Richardson & Bronwyn Houston, with Friends
Magabala Books, 2012
Available in good bookstores and online.