Review Blog

Aug 01 2019

Castle Hill Rebellion by Chrissie Michaels

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My Australian Story. Scholastic, 2019. ISBN: 9781742991863.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: Australia - History, Sydney Town, Convicts, Castle Hill, Rebellion. An engrossing recreation of events surrounding the little known rebellion at Castle Hill in the convict colony of New South Wales in 1804 is presented in this highly readable novel, another in the popular, long running series, My Australian Story. This ill fated rebellion is reinvigorated in this story as Joe becomes part of the plot hatched by political prisoners sent to Australia after the Irish rebellions, to overthrow the British colonial power and return to Ireland to rejoin their friends aiming for an Ireland free of British rule.
A convict boy, Joe works as a shepherd serving out his sentence, dreaming of his life after being released. But he becomes embroiled in a plot to rise against the loathsome garrison and despite his better instincts becomes part of the plot by a number of transported Irish rebels including one who has befriended him.
Joe's diary reveals the conditions under which they all live and work, the voyage out to Australia, the vast distances and the mix of convicts in Sydney Town. His friends, Kitt and Pat are also very young, and each is serving out a sentence that defies the imagination. Pat is part of the team cutting blocks of sandstone for new buildings at Parammatta, while Kitt has been adopted by former convicts now farming their own small patch of land.
Readers in upper primary years will find the adventure of the Castle Hill rebellion absolutely engrossing, depicting a part of Australia's history usually given scant coverage. Historical notes at the end reveals more of the people, places and events in the story, and other useful resources can be found on the National Museum of Australia website.
A most enjoyable addition to the series about a little known event in Australia's history.
Fran Knight

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