The Freedom Finders series by Emily Conolan
Break your chains Allen & Unwin, ISBN 9781760294915
Touch the sun Allen & Unwin, ISBN 9781760294922
(Age: 9-13) Emily Conolan was a fan of 'Choose your own adventure' books as a child. She loved how you could control the outcomes of the story by selecting different pathways at crucial points in the plot but instead of fantasy and sci-fi stories, Emily decided she would choose real life situations. In the real world, people have to make choices that can either help or hinder their future and there are times when the reader can make disastrous choices, resulting in death of the main character.
The series looks at how children have to discover ways to find freedom and escape life threatening situations, they are 'Freedom Finders', hence the name of the series.
The author has added a fact section at the back of each book to provide information to understand the background to each child's life.
In Break your chains, a young girl living in 1825 Ireland discovers her father has been arrested and her mother dies from disease. The reader tries to help her find refuge and safety and she is transported to colonial Australia. A poor and vulnerable girl, she is chosen to work in a homestead in Van Diemen's Land where she discovers a secret about the local bushrangers. She befriends the local Aboriginal people who disappear from the area due to the impact of white settlers.
The seven gemstones the convict girl is given on a bracelet are broken apart and find their way into each of the Freedom Finder books.
In Touch the sun, a Somalian boy needs to escape war-torn Mogadishu. Set in 2011, a terrorist organisation tries to kill both him and his little sister. He has to survive a desert, refugee camp and people smugglers.
Emily Conolan has a background of working with refugees in Tasmania, winning the Tasmanian of the Year, Hobart Citizen of the Year, and the Tasmanian Human Rights Award.
This is an exciting, interactive series, where the reader can make decisions that have life or death consequences. I recommend these books for primary school students aged 9 to 13 years.