Review Blog

Oct 25 2011

Meet Rose by Sherryl Clark

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Ill. by Lucia Masciullo. Our Australian Girl (series). Penguin, 2011. ISBN 978 0 14 330536 1.
(Ages: 9+) Australian history. Rose, a young girl who lives well in Melbourne at the turn of the twentieth century, longs to go to school. She has been tutored at home by a succession of governesses in needlecraft, etiquette and manners. And she would love to play cricket, having practised a little with her brother when mother was not at home. When her aunt Alice comes to stay, she has some very forward thinking ideas about how a young woman should live, espousing the ideas of the Suffragists, and votes for woman campaign. Rose's mother is appalled. She baulks at the idea that Rose be tutored by Alice, preferring instead a horrendous governess who wields a whip. Rose seizes the opportunity when mother is in town, to don her brother's clothes, and ride into Bourke Street to talk to her father. While her excursion does not play out exactly as she had hoped, her father supports her aim, skillfully allowing his wife to think it her idea that Rose be enrolled at the local Girls' School.
The first in the quartet of books about Rose, living in Melbourne in 1900, the story reveals much about the clash between the old and the new that was apparent at the time. Many women were demanding change, South Australia had already granted votes for women, and other states pushed for change in line with Federation.
The set is part of the series, Our Australian Girl, putting young women in various dates in our history, so showing through the eyes of these young girls what life was like in Australia at the time. And all in time for the new Australian Curriculum with its emphasis on Australian History, these will be well used in primary schools.
Fran Knight

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