The Other Side, by Sally Morgan

Gramps disappeared into his room. He returned a few minutes later with a gumleaf attached to a long leather string.
‘Here, put this around your neck,’ he said.
‘Why would I want to do that, Gramps?’ asked Alex.
‘It’s so you’ll always have a piece of the bush with you.’
Reluctantly, Alex put the gumleaf over his head and tucked it under his T-shirt where no one could see it.

Alex’s grandfather is really embarrassing. He’s always protesting and campaigning to save things like whales and trees. Other grandparents do things like help with homework or buy them sweets, but Gramps is too busy thinking up new ways to embarrass Alex – at least that’s how it feels. So when Alex has to go and stay with Gramps for a few days, he isn’t impressed. What will Gramps get up to this time? But Alex is about to be surprised. Strange events lead him to a greater understanding of why Gramps does what he does.

The Other Side is a child’s view of activism and how fighting for environmental issues can make a difference. It also explores the history of Western Australia’s Rabbit Proof Fence from a unique perspective – when Alex unexpectedly finds himself inside the body of a joey for part of the story.

Part of the Making Tracks series of historical fiction for primary aged readers.

The Other Side, by Sally Morgan, illustrated by Teresa Culkin-Lawrence
National Museum of Australia Press, 2007

The Day I Was History, by Jackie French

It was like I’d been knocked flat even though I was standing up. It was like the bushfires were back again in my head, like they are in dreams sometimes. And this old lady, well, older than Mum anyway, came up and said, ‘Are you alright?’

When Sam and his family go to visit the National Museum, he doesn’t expect to find an exhibit that represents an event he himself was involved in. But there it is – a charred hubcap from a fire truck burnt in the Canberra fires in January, 2003. Suddenly, Sam is revisiting his memory of the terrible day when the fires came from the hills and Canberra burned.

The Day I Made History is a child character’s version of the events of those fires, told in Sam’s first person voice. Sam tells the story as he remembers it, but also enables the reader to understand what happened.

Part of the Making Tracks series, which brings history to life for primary aged readers, this offering has the added bonus of getting readers to consider what it is that makes an event history, dealing as it does with events which have happened within readers’ lifetimes.

The Day I Made History, by Jackie French
National Museum of Australia Press, 2007

A Penny to Remember, by Kirsty Murray

‘I want you to remember the best times we’ve had. You and me together.’
Hannah turned the coin over and gazed at it in wonder. Carefully etched into the metal was a picture of a boy and a girl, two small figures holding hands. They were dressed plainly, the boy in a jacket, the girl in a simple dress. In an arc above their heads were two words. Hannah recognised the letter ‘H’.

When George is sentenced to be transported to Van Diemen’s Land, his greatest heartache is being separated from his sister Hannah. But another convict suggests a token he can leave behind for Hannah to remember him by – a love token made from a penny. Soon, George is on his way to Van Diemen’s Land and Hannah is at home in England wearing the penny on a ribbon around her neck. Is there any hope that they’ll ever be together again?

A Penny to Remember is a short chapter book for primary school aged readers, bringing the convict era alive for young readers. Part of the Making Tracks series from the National Museum of Australia Press, the story focuses on two young protagonists and is told from their alternate viewpoints in third person narrative.

The use of young characters and a real object from the museum’s collection helps to make Australian history accessible to young readers.

A Penny to Remember, by Kirsty Murray
National Museum of Australia Press, 2007

One Perfect Day, by Jackie French

May 9, 1927 didn’t start as a perfect day. Not for Billy.
‘Rise and shine!’ yelled Mr Cuddy. ‘Blast the boy, he’d sleep through a mob of emus galloping through the butter! Billy!’
‘Coming Mr Cuddy!’ Billy rolled over on the potato sacks in the sleep-out, waking Dusty beside him.

Life is hard for Billy, an orphan who has been sent to work on a farm near Canberra. He works long hours, doesn’t get enough to eat, and can’t keep warm. But when he hears that Mr Cuddy, the farmer, is going to shoot Dusty, the dog who is Billy’s only friend, Billy knows life could get much worse. He has until sun-down to find a new home for Dusty.

It is the opening day of the new Parliament House, and there is plenty of traffic heading for Canberra. Perhaps Billy can find someone to take Dusty home. When he finds a car broken down at the side of the road, he ends up with more than that.

One Perfect Day is a junior novel about friendship and loyalty, set amidst the events of the commissioning of the original Parliament House in Canberra. Part of the Making Tracks series, published by The National Museum of Australia Press, One Perfect Day is an easy to read offering, with plenty of interest for young readers. Kids will love the surprise ending and be fascinated by the old motor cars which feature heavily in the story.

One Perfect Day, by Jackie French
National Museum of Australia Press, 2006