Review Blog

Apr 08 2009

Atomic Testing : Woomera 1953 by Alan Tucker

cover image

Scholastic, 2009. ISBN 9781741692174
(Ages 10+) Another in the series, My Australian Story, Atomic Testing tells the story of the tests at Woomera and Emu in the 1950's. Anthony and his mother have only just arrived at this dusty outpost in the desert of South Australia, following their husband and father from Townsville where they used to live. Anthony's mother stayed behind with her son, nursing him through polio, a disease caught about twelve months before. After some months in hospital, Anthony's mother, a former nurse, took charge of his rehabilitation, making sure he received the exercises needed to strengthen his withered legs.
In Woomera, his diary reveals his mother's disillusionment with the small town along with her growing mistrust of the building of atomic weapons, Anthony's budding friendship with two boys at school, his father's work, when suddenly, Anthony and his family are under suspicion from the Commonwealth Police. One of his friends has brought photos of the rockets for Anthony to copy. His copies are so good, others in the class want one, and so he has a small business, copying and selling pictures of the rockets.
In diary form, this story recreates the suspicion and mistrust that surrounded the people who lived in Woomera during the scary years of the Cold War. Tucker recreates the misgivings of the mother very well, adding to the burden of her family as it tries to cope with the suspicion heaped upon it. It is a most engrossing read, and will intrigue and engage students who love reading of times past.
Fran Knight

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