Dad warned us we’d either love it or hate it here. Mum hates it. Or at least I think she does, because she’s done a mountain of grizzling since we arrived last Saturday. She hates the dust and the flies. And she hates that there are hardly any other women here. Dad said she’ll meet a few at the barbecue this weekend.
I love it. There are a lot of kids my age. They’re friendly because they’re all fairly new to town. They don’t call Woomera a town. They call it ‘the village’.
Moving from Townsville to isolated Woomera is a big change for Anthony’s family. His father works for the army and has been assigned to work on the top-secret atomic testing programme. His mother, who had friends, a garden and a pleasant lifestyle in Townsville, hates Woomera, and doesn’t agree with the atomic testing. For Anthony, though, life at Woomera is great. He has spent the past six years recovering from polio, and Woomera gives him the freedom to rediscover his childhood. He soon makes friends and has fun exploring the desert around the town site, playing cricket, and having loads of adventures.
Atomic Testing is a new title in the My Australian Story series and, like others titles in the series, uses diary format. Anthony is a likeable narrator, and the use of a background of childhood illness allows his adventures an extra element – as he finds added delight in doing things which for other young teens might be run of the mill, including riding a bike for the first time, and being allowed to play cricket. As well as being an interesting story, the book offers a glimpse at a significant part of Australian history which many young readers may know little about, and explores issues both of the time period and of contemporary times, including war and weaponry, family breakdown and childhood illness.
Atomic Testing, by Alan Tucker
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