Review Blog

Jul 24 2012

Alice of Peppermint Grove by Davina Bell

cover image

Ill. by Lucia Masciullo. Our Australian Girl (series) Penguin, 2012 ISBN 9780 14 3303631 3
(Ages: 9+) Recommended. Australian History. The third in the series about Alice, a young girl living in Perth at the end of World War One is brought to life in this episode, where she must contend with her mother working and father missing presumed dead, her brother Teddy serving overseas and about to come home, and the multitude of chores to complete at home each day.
The whole family is excited about Teddy's return, but when he does come home he is taciturn and distant, eventually revealing that he has been gassed in the trenches and suffering a fearful cough, which later gets him into trouble when he tries to swim a race.
Mabel is awash with guilt now that the war has ended, as she tells Alice of the lies she has told when writing to a soldier. Now that he has returned, he has asked to meet her, so the two girls go along with the intention that Mabel apologise to the man, but they find instead a new friend, one who shares their Christmas.
This episode in Alice's life is most enthralling, she has the dilemma of whether to take up ballet and when her friend is offered the part usually taken by Alice, friction occurs. We hear of soldiers returning with shell shock and gassed lungs, of the arrival of Spanish Flu, of the returning soldiers taking back their jobs from the women who have learnt new skills during the war. The whole book is fascinating as its background is made very real. This is a fine addition to an already engrossing series of books.
Set in Perth, the story is one of the Our Australian Girl series and so is well supported by a website which contains information and teacher notes for each of the now 6 stories of girls in different historical periods in Australia's history. At the end of this story, as with the others, is a teaser, the first few pages of the next in this series, Peacetime for Alice, while information is given about Australia at the time. it seems that many boys are now reading these stories as well.
Fran Knight

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