Review Blog

Mar 10 2020

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure hunter of the Australian outback by Stephanie Owen Reeder

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Heritage Heroes. NLA Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9780642279521. 132pp.
(Age: All) Highly recommended. In the summer of 1914-1915, 15-year-old Will Hutchison travelled with his father and a small party of men looking for gold in South Australia, travelling through some of the most inhospitable land, at the hottest time of the year, during the worst recorded drought.
We meet Will at the Adelaide Railway Station as he boards the train to begin his journey to Hergott Springs, now known as Marree.
The true tale of Will's arduous journey has been skilfully told by Stephanie Owen Reeder, bringing the reader along on the expedition, experiencing the heat, flies and the desperate search for water.
Will and the men use camels to travel and rarely meet any other people along the way. It is obvious how perilous their journey is, and the author compares their expedition to previous explorers, Leichardt, Sturt, Giles and Burke and Wills, some who perished crossing the continent.
Although the men did not discover gold, young Will found opals and discovered what is now Coober Pedy opal fields.
This beautifully crafted book describes Will's adventures through story, excerpts of information, old photographs, drawings and paintings.
This is the fifth title in the award winning Heritage Heroes series.
At the time of writing, the author currently has Trouble in the surf in the CBCA Notables for 2020.
I highly recommend this book to any school library.
Jane Moore

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