Thursday, 26 April 2018

The Dig Tree: The Story of Burke and Wills

It took nearly 200 years to map the circumference of Australia and discovering the interior became a race between the states. It had already been 72 years since the first colonists had arrived and yet no one had yet crossed the continent.  The Burke and Wills expedition was determined to open up new fronteirs in Australia.


With the help of original source documents Sarah Murgatroyd has woven together the most beautiful living book history of the expedition to find a way through the center of Australia.  Follow Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills as well as Chales Sturt.


  • Format Paperback | 384 pages
  • Dimensions 130 x 196 x 26mm | 281.23g
  • Publication date 04 Jan 2010
  • Publisher Text Publishing Co
  • Imprint The Text Publishing Company
  • Publication City/Country Melbourne, Australia
  • ISBN10 192152099X
  • ISBN13 9781921520990 
From Book Depostitory:
"Murgatroyd has brought together for the first time new scientific and historical evidence, and tells the story of Burke and Wills, the explorers who set out to cross Australia from coast to coast, in brilliant detail. Here, at last, is the book that brings to life Australia's most infamous story of exploration. The Dig Tree describes vividly the remarkable courage, the suffering and the moments of sheer lunacy, as Burke and Wills struggled to survive in a harsh land they did not understand. Sarah Murgatroyd's style is immensely readable. She has written with warmth about Burke and Wills and their party, and reveals fascinating detail - for example, that Burke had a notoriously bad sense of direction, and was famous for getting lost even on the way home from his local pub! Though we all know the basic story of the Burke and Wills expedition, The Dig Tree reveals just how little most of us know of the individuals, the politics, the blunders and the ambitions behind this extraordinary event in Australia's history. This is essential and utterly compelling reading."


  • Format CD-Audio
  • Dimensions 134 x 146mm | 258g
  • Publication date 01 Dec 2009
  • Publisher Bolinda Publishing
  • Imprint Bolinda Audio Books
  • Publication City/Country Tullamarine, Australia
  • Edition Unabridged
  • Edition statement Unabridged edition
  • ISBN10 1742334601
  • ISBN13 9781742334608 
  • Read by Catherine Milte
We loved listening to Catherine read The Dig Tree on our Outback Adventure a few years back.  I gained such a new appreciation for the Outback listening to this book.

This is post three of the Homeschool Review Crew 5 Days of Homeschool Blog Hop 2018. The other posts in the series can be found here:

Day 1 - The Switherby Pilgrims and Jamberoo Road.
Day 2 - Australian Historical Fiction
Day 3 - ANZAC Books


Looking ahead on the host blog:





Wednesday, 25 April 2018

ANZAC Books

Today is ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Cor) day in Australia. It's a natioanl day of remembrance in Austrlai and New Zealand that commemorates all Australians and New Zeealnaders who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping endevours. Today I want to share some beautiful books that bring ANZAC day to life and touch the hearts of those who read them.

If you love poetry you may want to look at  ANAZC Day - An Ode to the Fallen (along with extra resources) a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon and was published in London in The Winnowing Fan: Poems of the Great War in 1914.


  • Format Paperback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions 128 x 198 x 19mm | 206g
  • Publication date 15 May 2009
  • Publisher HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
  • Publication City/Country New South Wales, Australia
  • Illustrations note maps
  • ISBN10 0732285402
  • ISBN13 9780732285401
It is 1915 and three young woman Midge, Ethel and Anne start a canteen in France, reaching out to and caring for the wounded who are returning from the front. Midge is recruited by the ambulance service and finds herself in carnage and scenes of courage she could never have imagined.    Her twin Tim has been listed as MIA in the devasting defeat of the ANZAC forces at Gallipoli.
When the 'War to end all Wars' is over, all three discover that going 'home' can be both a strange and wonderful experience.

A Rose for the ANZAC Boys was awarded the 2009 Honour Book, Children's Book Council fo Australia and shortilisted for the 2009 ABIA Awards.


  • For ages 12-17
  • Format Paperback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions 129 x 198 x 13mm | 162g
  • Publication date 01 Apr 2009
  • Publisher HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
  • Publication City/Country New South Wales, Australia
  • ISBN10 0732288398
  • ISBN13 9780732288396 
Simpson and his donkey is a well know from the war.  Together they saved over 300 men over a span of 24 days. He died at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915.  We are looking forward to reading this story after seeing the bronze memorial statue of the two of them here in Melbourne.

About the story:   "The famous story of Simpson and his donkey - a true Anzac legend Most Australians know of Simpson and his donkey, who became heroes at Gallipoli, even among the Turkish forces. Few know where the donkey came from, or what happened to him after World War I. Or that another man carried on rescuing the wounded with the donkey after Simpson died. This is the story of a small unassuming donkey. It's also the story of Gallipoli, of Jack Simpson, and New Zealander stretcher-bearer Richard Henderson, who literally took up the reins after Simpson's death."


A Story of Courage in World War 1

  • For ages 9-12
  • Format Hardback | 32 pages
  • Dimensions 210 x 282 x 12mm | 322.05g
  • Publication date 30 May 2008
  • Publisher Candlewick Press,U.S.
  • Publication City/Country Massachusetts, United States
  • Language English
  • Edition statement Us
  • Illustrations note chiefly col. Illustrations
  • ISBN10 0763639133
  • ISBN13 9780763639136
We read this book a few years ago and enjoyed learning about Jack Simpson and his donkey at ANZAC cove.

From Book Depository: "Two unlikely heroes rescue hundreds of men wounded in war in a poignant picture book based on a true tale of World War I. When Jack Simpson was a boy in England, he loved leading donkeys along the beach for a penny a ride. So when he enlists as a stretcher bearer in World War I, his gentle way with those animals soon leads him to his calling. Braving bullets and bombs on the battlefields of Gallipoli, Jack brings a donkey to the aid of 300 Allied soldiers -- earning both man and donkey a beloved spot in legend. This engaging nonfiction tale includes a map and brief bios of key characters."



  • Format Hardback | Paperback  32 pages
  • Dimensions 242 x 262 x 9mm | 395g
  • Publication date 05 Nov 2013
  • Publisher HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
  • Publication City/Country Pymble, Australia
  • ISBN10 073229360X
  • ISBN13 9780732293604
ANZAC Day is a public holiday and as such a special day when we remember and honour those that have died to preserve our freedom.  In this book Jackie French shares the traditions that have been passed down from the first march of the veterans in 1916 to the descendants who march today.  She references the many plays the ANZACs have fought and the various ways in which they keep peace and support civilians in war-torn parts of the world today.  Beautifully illustrated by Mark Wilson.


  • For ages 6-8
  • Format Paperback | 36 pages
  • Dimensions 202 x 281 x 4mm | 190g
  • Publication date 01 Dec 2015
  • Publisher Random House Australia
  • Publication City/Country North Sydney, Australia
  • Language English
  • Edition statement Reprint
  • Illustrations note colour illustrations
  • ISBN10 0857981935
  • ISBN13 9780857981936
Meet... is a series of books introducing famous historical figures from Australia's past who have shaped our history and the country we are living in today. These books have been written for a younger audience but we love finding them at the library and bringing them home.

Meet ... the ANZACS  "ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. It is the name given to the Australian and New Zealand troops who landed at Gallipoli in World War I. The name is now a symbol of bravery and mateship"



This is post three of the Homeschool Review Crew 5 Days of Homeschool Blog Hop 2018. The other posts in the series can be found here:

Day 1 - The Switherby Pilgrims and Jamberoo Road.
Day 2 - Australian Historical Fiction

Looking ahead on the host blog:


Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Jackie French - Australia Historical Fiction

Jackie French is one of those authors synonomous with Australian children's literature.  Her writing career started by accident and I'm so pleased that she did pick up her pen to write.


Jackie has written numerous historical series:
Today I would like to share a few of her Australian Historical Fiction books with you. (Please note that the links to Book Depository are Affiliate links)


  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 304 
  • Dimensions 128 x 198 x 20mm | 212g
  • Publication date 01 Aug 2009
  • Publisher HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
  • Publication City/Country New South Wales, Australia
  • ISBN10 0732285410
  • ISBN13 9780732285418 
It's the height of the gold rush in Ballarat in 1854. It's a place of dreams, gold and unrest. Join Sam, a homeless teenager who is called to join the Puddlehams who run 'the best cook shop on the diggings'. Sam experiences first hand the power of a united stand which changes her life and the lives of those on the gold fields forever.

The Eureka Stokade is a central part of Australian history and pivotal to our freedoms we have today.

The Night They Stormed Eureka was awarded the Young People's History Award in the 2010 NSW Premier's History Awards.


  • For ages 12-17
  • Format Paperback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions 128 x 196 x 20mm | 281.23g
  • Publication date 28 Apr 2004
  • Publisher HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
  • Publication City/Country New South Wales, Australia
  • ISBN10 0207199426 
  • ISBN13 9780207199424
Eight year old chimney sweep Tom Appleby has been convicted of theft and sentenced to deportation to Botany Bay.  He is a member of the First Fleet and arrives in this new and wild country that has little to offer that the English are used to.  Soon after his arrival Sergeant Stanley takes on Tom as a servant and along with Sergeant Stanley and his son they build a new home, set up an orchard and vegetable garden for themselves.  Follow Tom and his new family as they learn what it is like to be pioneers in this new land of Australia.

Tom Appleby, Convict Boy was recoginised in the 2012 Children's Book Council Awards.

  • For ages 12-17
  • Format Paperback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions 130 x 197 x 14mm | 158g
  • Publication date 24 Jul 2006
  • Publisher HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
  • Publication City/Country New South Wales, Australia
  • ISBN10 0207200777
  • ISBN13 9780207200779 
Isaac is twelve and has joined the HM Bark Endeavour as a master's servant under the command of Lieutenant James Cook as they sail to Tahiti to map the transit of Venus.  Rumours about that the Lieutenant has orders to search and find the Great South Land.
Isaac soon learns that there is an order to thing aboard the Endeavour and that as the new crew member he is not good enough to feed the goat.  The goat he soon learns has laready sailed around the world, seen oceans and lands far off.  As time passes a new friendships grows between Isaac and the ships goat, one that lasts through shipwreck, bushfire, illness and the discovery of new lands.

The Goat Who Sailed The World is book one in the Animal Stars Series.  It is based on the true story of a stroppy animal who sailed with James Cook on the Endeavour. She provided milk for three years on the voyage.   You can read more about this famous goat on Jackie's website.

  • Format Paperback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions 128 x 196 x 14mm | 222.26g
  • Publication date 01 Aug 2008
  • Publisher HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
  • Publication City/Country New South Wales, Australia
  • Language English
  • ISBN10 0732285437
  • ISBN13 9780732285432 
 The story of Burke and Wills expedition as experienced through one of the pack animals.  The humans call him 'Bell Sing' but the other camels call him "He Who Spits Further then the Wind. Transported from the mountains and deserts of the 'Northwest Frontier' (present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan), Bell Sing accompanies explorers Burke and Wills as they try to cross Australia from south to north. Bell Sing has never had a high opinion of humans - or horses. And this expedition is the worst managed caravan he's even been in. Camel handler Dost Mahomet and soldier John King are also beginning to wonder if their leader is competent, or crazy. Bell Sing can smell water over the sandhills on the horizon ... and freedom too. Can the expedition succeed? And who - if anyone - will survive? This is the gritty and true story about one of the most extraordinary and iconic events in Australia's history.​

The Camel Who Crossed Australia is the third book in The Animal Stars Series. You can read more notes on the book on Jackie's website.

This is post two of the Homeschool Review Crew 5 Days of Homeschool Blog Hop 2018.


The other posts in the series can be found here:


Looking ahead on the host blog:



**Please note these links will not be live until after 12 pm USA EST.

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