Tag Archives: Pamela Rushby

Interned – Pamela Rushby

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Walker Books

March 2022

ISBN: 9781760653019
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Australian RRP: $17.99
New Zealand RRP: $19.99

I absolutely love Pam’s writing, and her historical fiction is especially satisfying in my eyes, particularly when she incorporates history of Brisbane and Australia. I moved to Queensland in 1985 and while that’s a long time ago, and I’ve been teaching here since 1993, there is still so much history of which I am aware so I always delight in finding out more.

Yes I did know about internment during both wars and I also knew that in many instances it was completely irrational, unjust and callous. I certainly didn’t realise that (in this instance) during the First World War so-called ‘aliens’ – Germans in whatever guise the Australian government determined – from outside Australia, but in British territories e.g. Singapore were not only interned but then subsequently sent to Australian camps for whatever duration. What the actual ???? I mean, I’ve just been reading commentaries on the dangers of us reading books with a contemporary lens and being judgemental but realistically, isn’t it somewhat ludicrous that someone born in Australia but with German (as it were) grandparents could be considered ‘foreign’ and ‘dangerous’ or alternately, a German national living in Singapore long-term should be sent to Australia? Riddikulus!

Ok rant aside, I absolutely loved this one. I opened my weekly parcels this morning (after a fraught first week with students at the new school) to discover this beauty and took it to the hair salon this arvo – where I just devoured it!

Gretta has lived in Singapore since she was little in an enviable existence with a big house, servants, the best of everything in fact. When the British soldiers arrive and take control of all foreign influence in Singapore, Gretta and her parents are interned and subsequently sent to Australia.

Tilly has grown up in Brisbane with her younger brother, Australian mum and German father, living over their bakery in Red Hill. When Tilly’s dad is interned – although an Australian citizen, naturalised after many years- her mum’s mental health suffers, and Tilly and her brother Franz need all their ingenuity to make things work, particularly when their mum insists on ‘following’ her husband to the little town of Bornabba in rural NSW.

As you can predict now, Gretta and Tilly end up living next door to each other and despite a rocky start become fast friends.

This fascinating narrative unravels real life accounts, actual events, the drama and danger of the Spanish Flu pandemic that followed the Armistice, the grief, injustice, determination, and optimism in the turmoil of the Great War. I read with astonishment that Tilly’s family walked from Red Hill to the Botanic Gardens !! – and the descriptions of the appearance of both Sydney and Brisbane. Of course I realise both cities looked vastly different in 1916 but it is still hard to visualise (goes to look up distance between Red Hill and Brisbane Botanic Gardens). I was also aghast at the Lutheran pastor (3rd generation) who was incarcerated. *shakes head*

Particularly if your school does ‘read around your topic’ but most certainly to recommend to your readers of historical fiction, those studying the Great War, or sensitive topics such as racism, propaganda and of course pandemics – and just for a cracking good read – I highly recommend this for readers from around Year 6 upwards.

The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle – Pamela Rushby

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Walker Books Australia

July 2020

Illustrated by Nelle May Pierce

ISBN: 9781760651930
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Australian RRP: $17.99
New Zealand RRP: $19.99

When I mentioned that I was reading this Pamela Rushby commented that she had written the sort of book she would have liked to read when she was eleven. She’s also written the sort of book that I would have liked to read when I was eleven! I’ve mentioned here before my somewhat non-fiction nerdiness as a child and reading about ancient civilisations, particularly Egypt, was one of my ongoing passions – so much so that I kept my (much older) brother’s ancient history textbooks when he finished school (and still have a couple of them) and often requested such titles from my mother who loved to buy me books.

This delicious story is really historical fiction doubled as it is set in Victorian times when the fascination with Egyptology was at it’s zenith. Young orphan Hattie/Hatshepsut Lambton has led a lonely life in the care of an always absent guardian uncle and when he is regrettably eaten by a crocodile she is sent to her great-uncle and great-aunt, relatives she’s never known before, who live in a very peculiar and ramshackle old castle. Hattie finds herself within a loving family circle at last with some quirky strangeness which young readers will find absolutely entrancing.

Of course there would be no adventure without some dark deeds and the Ravens, brother and sister, who are assistants to her great-aunt (who specialises in mummy unwrappings for fashionable society parties) are clearly up to no good.

Hattie is intrigued by her relatives’ passion for and knowledge of the ancient Egyptians but finds herself increasingly distressed by the whole concept of destroying the mummies. When the Egyptian authorities ban the export of ancient artefacts Hattie thinks perhaps the whole mummy unwrapping might come to a natural end but the Ravens are determined to keep Great-Aunt Iphigenia undertaking her career, as it serves their nefarious financial ends well.

An expedition to Egypt itself in search of mummies to smuggle is a revelation to Hattie and she encounters many new experiences and unexpected friends and allies.

Pamela Rushby has created a wonderful adventure weaving many fascinating facts about both these historical periods with characters both intriguing and likable as well as those repellent and villainous. The touch of fantasy throughout is a bonus which will appeal to all young readers who will long to meet the mysterious Sekhmet and her lively kittens (resident housekeepers at Crumblin Castle) for themselves and they will enthusiastically embrace Hattie’s determination to protect her new-found family.

This is an absolutely super story which blends fantasy and fact beautifully. The publishers recommend it for 8 years upwards. I am going to keep it in my secondary library where I know I will have many Year 7 and 8 readers who will love it. It will certainly feature in my next book promotions to these students as well as my book club kiddos.

Highly recommended for avid readers from around middle primary upwards.

Classroom activities available here