Penguin Random House
July 31, 2017
Puffin (AU YR)
This is, in old parlance, a ripping yarn – a real Boys’ Own adventure. Charlie, Alf and Masa are the best of mates who go to school together, fish, swim and most of all are ‘The Fighting Stingrays’ determined to beat all imaginary Nazis and even Hitler himself. Of course, the Nazis aren’t very near to beautiful Thursday Island but that doesn’t stop them.
Charlie is one of the few white kids on the island which is a glorious melting pot of cultures in the 1940s. For decades the island has been peaceful although not without its injustices as Charlie discovers when he realises just how his father treats his pearl divers.
The boys’ loyalties and friendship are tested severely however when the threat of Japanese invasion looms nearer and nearer. Masa, who has lost his pearl diving dad, is about to be interned with the rest of the Japanese on the island and his two mates know they can’t let that happen. Add to the mix a certifiably insane, bigoted and criminal commanding officer in charge of the island’s troops and here is an adventure fraught with risk, danger and what seems an impossible task.
This is a great read and has it all; suspense, drama, danger, initiative and courage.
Not only will it provide readers with a gripping narrative but offer a viewpoint of a rarely discussed incident in Australia’s wartime history as well as some history of the Torres Strait islands.
Highly recommended for readers, particularly boys, from around ten years upwards.