Review Blog

Mar 30 2015

Bridget : a New Australian by James Moloney

cover image

A New Australian series. Omnibus Books (Scholastic Australia), 2015. ISBN: 9781742990989
This book introduces a new series from Scholastic called A New Australian, which will tell the migration stories of children to Australia, each book written by individual authors. Irish history is fertile ground for storytelling; one of its most tragic episodes was the potato famine of the mid-1800s. This intersected with the history of pioneer Australia, leading to one of the great waves of migration to this land. The story begins with the Nelligans, an Irish cottier family who are evicted by their English landlord and eventually find refuge in a workhouse, sparse as it is. Heartbreaking circumstances provide an opportunity for two of the sisters, Maeve and Bridget, to sail to Australia.
Because of the kindness of the ship's doctor - and Bridget's uncanny ability to capture rats - the trip for the girls is relatively comfortable, though they suffer at the hands of religious bigotry amongst other girls and their bitter Matron Mrs Clements. The bigotry continues after the two sisters are indentured as house help and taken to the new colony of Brisbane Town. One escapes the oppression through a surprise marriage. Bridget, the younger one must bide her time under increasingly cruel treatment until her chance comes to find freedom in the new land, caring for the animals that she loves.
The story reveals the hardship and oppression suffered by the poor Irish of the time, from the English landlords at home, to the gentry of a pioneer land. Other hardships of sea travel and life in a raw country are alluded to but it is the lot of the defenceless and dependent servant girl that is the focus here. The ending of the book is more worthy of a pastoral adventure than historical fiction, though emigration to an unknown land could be seen as a melding of the genre, a historical adventure. Useful as a pleasant read for wide reading schemes, this book could also be used as a serial read for historic background in units on European pioneer settlement in Australia.
Kerry Neary

BUY IT NOW ON booktopia
Archived Blog Entries
Latest News
Indie Book Awards 2017
CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 shortlist
CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2017 shortlist
School Library Association Information Book Award 2017
2017 UKLA Book Awards shortlists
International Children's Book Day 2nd April, 2017
Branford Boase Award 2017 longlist
Children's Book Award 2017 shortlist
Infographic: Teen reading habits
Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2017
National Simultaneous Storytime 2017

ReadPlus Features
Print similar authors bookmark
Read similar authors
How to find lesson plans
Sample theme animation

Promote Reading
Staff holiday reading list 2016
South Australian Christian Schools Conference 2016 - Library Displays
Display calendars
Science fiction and fantasy lists SAETA conference 2015
Value of School Libraries
Library, Reading development and the Internet
Free Rights of the Reader Poster
Reviews: Author index
Books for boys
Bookmark and poster templates