Review Blog

Mar 14 2013

Meet Lina by Sally Rippin

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Penguin, 2013. ISBN 9780143307006
(Age: 9+) Recommended. Historical fiction. Our Australian Girl series. Lina is clever and her Italian-born parents, keen for her to succeed in their new home in Melbourne, encourage her to apply for a scholarship at the up-market private Catholic College some way away, intent on her becoming a lawyer or doctor. Here she succeeds but keeps to herself that she lives at Carlton, in a small cramped cottage with her hardworking parents, grandmother, two brothers, a baby and her uncle, lately come from Italy. To keep this family running well, Lina must do her chores, but things collide when her new friend invites her home after school, a time when Lina should be looking after her baby brother.
A story brimful of the plight of migrant children in the 1950's who found their new home at odds with the customs and beliefs of their parents, Lina is a likeable character, full of life and hope, loving her family, willing to help and take her part, but equally wanting to get to know her new friends, and develop her skills as a writer.
Tension between several of her new friends boils over when the girls, Lina and Mary, put together a magazine. Their spat takes them to the Mother Superior, who makes them work together on a new school magazine, and the girls, once at odds, must now cooperate. The subject of this will be the next in the series of four stories about Lina, living near the Italian-rich Lygon Street.
Our Australian Girl is a series much in demand in schools wanting a fresh approach to historical novels and fitting in with the new curriculum. Each story is of a girl set in a particular decade, the four stories published separately. Each novel gives information about the girl's life and times, with snippets of information at the end, and several pages of the start of the following story. Teacher notes and an extensive website complement the books.
Fran Knight

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