Traumatised by a fire in which the narrator's family perishes, the narrator takes on a new identity on the goldfields. The narrator flees to the Chinese camp, taking the name Lin. But Ellery, a man who links to Lin's past, is determined to take over all the goldfields, setting in place a dangerous sequence of events. Ages 9+.
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(194mm x 126mm x 11mm)
Walker Books Australia
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Country of Publication:
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Book Review: Ratwhiskers and Me by Lorraine Marwood - Reviewed by Boomert (16 Jan 2010)
Set in the 1800s in the Victorian goldfields, this prose-poetry novel throws the reader in at the deep end. There’s a narrator known only as ‘boy’, and a cast of characters with strange names like Ratwhiskers, Baldhead and Pigtail. It’s difficult to know what’s going on. Who are these people? What are they doing? And why is a dog smiling? But perseverance pays off and the confusion clears to reveal an exciting story that encompasses tragedy, treachery and a cross-cultural romance between a Chinese boy and an orphaned white settler girl. Written by poet and children’s author Lorraine Marwood (The Girl Who Turned into Treacle, Redback Mansion), this book has some lovely evocative descriptions. A gold nugget is described as ‘a misshapen bubble of toffee’; and a bush track is ‘as wide as a kangaroo tail.' The story is told, fittingly, in simple staccato phrases, as if uttered by someone with little breath to spare. The problem for junior readers-at whom this book is aimed-will be in getting them to push through those first puzzling pages. Once immersed, however, they’ll find themselves carried along by the rip-roaring adventure.