Review Blog

Jan 18 2017

The horse thief by Jane Smith

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Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy bk. 2. Big Sky Publishing. ISBN 9781925520064
(Age: 7-9) Recommended. After his first escapade, Tommy now has some understanding of bushrangers, their lives and the history of the Australian goldfields. His teacher Mrs O'Grady is certainly surprised; she has no idea that on a recent holiday to his grandfather's property, the young boy ventured back in time to 1863. Here, he had a chance meeting with a bushranger, Captain Thunderbolt.
In The Horse Thief, Tommy's family travel to the Hamilton Show for him and Cosmo his horse, to compete in the dressage competition. Mum encourages him to take his horse for a ride to settle him down before the event. Of course, with his hat on, his clothes magically change to moleskin trousers and a cotton shirt and he lands back in June 1850. Tommy quickly becomes embroiled in a drama involving stolen horses, rustlers and a bushranger with several identities. Together with their rightful owner squatter William Morton they track the thieves down and bring bushranger Frank Gardiner to justice.
Teacher librarian, archivist and author Jane Smith continues to weave fact and fiction together in her Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy series. These short junior novels are suited to young readers beginning their chapter book journey and are a great read aloud class novel. They also support the Year 5 History Curriculum and provide understanding into the era, making them an easy to use research tool - comparing and contrasting daily life, transport and the motives behind the bushrangers' actions. Her Australian Bushrangers factual books provided accurate insights into the lives of Captain Thunderbolt, Moonlite, Starlight, Ben Hall and Frank Gardiner.
Rhyllis Bignell

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