Teresa: A new Australian by Deborah Abela
New Australian series. Scholastic, 2016. ISBN 9781742990941
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Teresa is part of the New Australian series, a collection of books about immigrants to Australia and the issues they face. In this novel, we meet Teresa, a young girl from war-torn Malta, who in 1949, after suffering through three years of German bombings, migrates to Australia with her family. Leaving behind everything they know for a better life is both stressful and exciting but Teresa is brave (and a whiz at remembering her multiplication table).
On the boat for Australia, Teresa becomes friends with an English orphan named Anna. They help each other through the experiences of a long ocean crossing but are soon separated in Australia. Life in a new country is not what Teresa expected. There are wonderful and abundant new foods to try but also racist comments from people they don't even know. Teresa hears words she has never heard before and is scared by the attitudes of some people. Thankfully, she does meet some lovely people and it is her friendship with Albert, an Australian soldier, who saves her from the bullying of boys from school. Another change sees her hardworking parents leave Teresa at a convent while they work hard and build a new house for them all. It is at the convent that Anna comes back into Teresa's life and another chapter begins.
Teresa is an excellent novel for exposing children to the lives of an immigrant family and the hardships they faced because of war. It explains the negative experiences in a light manner while describing the hurt and confusion they also cause. The story also shows the strength, determination and sacrifices families had to make for their survival. This is highly recommended for independent readers aged 9+. It was also interesting to read the information about the author and her mention of her Nanna Teresa. This hints at a personal link to the story and makes the events more possible, believable and real.