Review Blog

Oct 21 2008

A good arriving by David McRobbie

cover image

Puffin Books, 2008. ISBN 978014300403 5
(Age 11+) When Helen's family is evicted from their small farm, Helen is forced to go and work in the big house nearby. She attracts the attention of the son of the lord, and in rebuffing his advances, loses her job. She becomes a friend of the doctor's wife in the village and when that family decides to emigrate to New South Wales, Helen is invited along as companion to the wife and nurse to the child. On Board the Recovery, the family discovers that the ship is also a convict ship.

An interesting look at the migration of a varied lot of English people to early Australia, A good arriving is broad in it scope. On the Recovery, Helen finds that the doctor is interested in her, so she must repel him. The son of the house where she worked is also on board, offering his protection. One of the sailors also looks kindly upon Helen, so she must be wary. Below the cabins dwell the convicts and they are seen but rarely. When they do come on deck, Helen recognizes one of them, a small boy called Ben who she helped when he was in the big house as a chimney sweep. She helps him again and this leads to his release on board ship from the confines of the convict quarters.

This book will prove an easy way of learning about Australia's early history. The main character Helen, is too modern to be believable, but kids will enjoy the way she makes her way in the world. Once the amazing coincidences are forgotten, the story reads very easily, smoothly taking in historical romance, crime and adventure all rolled into one. When Helen arrives in NSW, the stage seems set for a sequel.
Fran Knight

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