A Marathon of Her Own – The Diary of Sophia Krikonis, by Irini Savvides

We are here. Finally in Australia. The ship arrived in Fremantle this morning, later than scheduled due to the bad weather. After the storms we were weary and although normally the immigration officers would board the ship first, we had had such a rough time of it that they made an exception and let us off to recover a little.

When Sophia comes to Australia from Greece to start anew life, she finds that seasickness on the voyage is the least fo her problems. Everything in Australia is different and she thinks she will never get used to it.

At school Sophia is teased and isolated by the other students and, rather than helping her, the teacher joins in, angry that Sophia has not learnt English. It seems all that Sophia has is her love of running and, with the Olympics about to start in Melbourne, the prospect of seeing her hero win the marathon. This love of running could be the thing that turns things Sophia’s way.

A Marathon of her Own is a diary format story which provides a deep insight into the migrant struggle from a child’s perspective as well as an exploration of the Australia of 1956.

Part of Scholastic’s My Story series, this is a tale which will both inform and entertain, with readers cheering Sophia on as she runs a marathon of a different sort to overcome prejudice, loneliness and dislocation.

A Marathon of Her Own: The Diary of Sophia Krikonis, by Irini Savvides
Scholastic, 2004

Our Don Bradman, by Peter Allen

When Victor receives a diary for his twelfth birthday, his Grandma tells him he can write about anything – even Don Bradman. Although he does write about lots of other things, the Don figures prominently in his writing over the next year, especially after he gets to know the Australian cricketer personally.

Our Don Bradman is part of the My Story series from Scholastic, each using the diary format to tell a child’s story in a particular period in history. This one is based on true events and not only shares the events of Bradman’s cricket career but also of other major events in Sydney and around the world in 1932.

1932 was the year in which the infamous Bodyline cricket scandal played out during England’s visit to Australia. It was also the year that the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened and was an Olympic year. Australia was also in the grips of the depression. All these events and many more are related in the first person account of young Victor McDonald whose family relocates to Sydney because of the depression. But it is cricket – and Don Bradman – which sits at the centre of the story, making it likely to appeal to young cricket fans who will enjoy not only learning about the great Sir Donald Bradman but also following Victor’s story of trying to be a great cricketer himself, despite owning no shoes or a proper cricket bat.

Our Don Bradman is a quality book for private reading and for school library and classroom collections.

Our Don Bradman: The Diary of Victor McDonald, by Peter Allen
Scholastic, 2004

Riding With Thunderbolt, by Allan Baillie

Ben Cross has been orphaned by the smallpox epdiemic and he has come to live with his brutal uncle, who beats and abuses him. So when his mate Thommo suggests they run away and join the bushranger Thunderbolt, Ben feels he has nothing to lose.

For the next two years Ben travels with Thunderbolt’s gang and family. He befirends Thunderbolt’s wife, Mary and their two small children, helping with the chores of cooking and providing for the campsite. He acts as cockatoo (lookout) for the gang when they conduct their raids and hold-ups. At the same time, Ben experiences the highs and lows of the bushranging life. He sees his mate Thommo killed by a trooper during a shoot out, lives with the threat of being caught and imprisoned, and learns about friendship and loyalty.

Riding With Thunderbolt is part of the My Story series from Scholastic and, as such, is written in diary format in the voice of young Ben. Readers aged 10 and over will be drawn into the tale by this first person narrative which enables the author not to impose an opinion of the bushranger lifestyle, but rather to show its impact on one young life.

A good solid read from a reliable author.

My Story: Riding With Thunderbolt – the Diary of Ben Cross, by Allan Baillie
Scholastic, 2004