Eleanor, Elizabeth by Libby Gleeson
Ill. by Beattie Alvarez. Second Look, 2016. ISBN 9780994234070.
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended.
This is a new edition of the novel published in 1984, Libby Gleeson's first novel and Highly Commended in the 1985 Children's Book Council of Australia awards. Her 2016 introduction explains that it drew on her experience as a 10 year old moving to a new town and having to come to terms with a new school, new friends, and a new culture.
Eleanor is not happy when her family moves from the cool Tablelands to the hot dry country plains, leaving behind close friends, and starting a new school with a teacher that likes to crack the ruler and Danny the bully out to get her in the schoolyard. So it is a relief to escape into the derelict old family schoolhouse on their property and then even more interesting when she discovers her grandmother’s diary hidden in a tea chest. What she reads there leads her to explore further the unknown areas up the creek and across the fields. But exploring with her brothers and their friend leads them all into great danger.
Gleeson's writing weaves together the different worlds of country life, the children's games and conversations, Eleanor's private thoughts and fears, and the diary entries of the nineteenth century. Readers will readily identify with Eleanor's loneliness, her curiosity and her sense of adventure, and follow along with her as dramatic circumstances force her to assume a role of great bravery and courage. The story still holds strong today and this new edition with line drawing illustrations by Beattie Alvarez should be a popular read in any school library.