“…Captain Trelwaney will take you on as well. We can both start work on the picky-table. And we can both earn money.”
I stood frozen, eyes wide.
“I knew you’d be pleased,” said Gilbert. “I have to go now. See you later.”
He didn’t say when and I didn’t ask.
Jack and Gilbert have been best friends for years, and have made a pact that when they’re older they’ll work together in the copper mines, just like their fathers do. But Jack doesn’t know how to tell Gilbert that the thought of working underground terrifies him. On top of that, he loves school and learning, and his mother is keen for him to succeed there. So, when Gilbert is suddenly responsible for the family income, and leaves school to start work, Jack is torn: should he keep the promise he made to his friend, or should he follow the path his heart is keen to take?
That Boy, Jack is a story of friendship and courage, set in and around the South Australian township of Moonta in the 1870s. Depicting aspects of Australian history which may be unfamiliar to young readers, the story will appeal both to young history buffs and to any reader who simply likes a story of adventure. Jack must work hard at home, as well as at school and paid employment, and young readers may be surprised at just how much was expected of a twelve year old boy in the time period. As well as friendship and courage, the story also explores issues including education, family, health and even left-handedness.
Brian weaves a story which allows the reader to experience both this history and the personal journey in an intimate, exciting way.
That Boy, Jack, by Janeen Brian
Walker Books, 2013
Available from good bookstores and online.