Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy Shoot-out at the Rock by Jane Smith
Published by Big Sky Publishing
Tommy is in trouble. He only got 2 out of 10 on a school history test, and the teacher kept him in at lunch time for detention. She gave him a book to read on bushrangers. To Tommy’s surprise, he actually enjoyed it. Finally, Mrs O’Grady lets him go. He missed out on a donut at the tuckshop and in total frustration steals one from another boy. Later that night, his parents tell him he has to go and work on his grandparents’ farm in the school holidays. Tommy is upset. He’ll miss pony club and his friends.
When Tommy arrives at the farm, his grandfather gives him Combo, a beautiful bay horse to ride. Tommy starts to think that working on the farm won’t be so bad after all, but then the real adventure begins. Tommy discovers a strange old hat in a cave on the property, and whenever he puts it on, he gets magically transported to the past to 150 years ago when bushrangers roamed the region and battled the troopers for their ongoing freedom. Tommy meets Fred Ward (aka Captain Thunderbolt) and even helps the robber to escape when he is shot.
This is a great book for any primary age school kid, especially anyone who thinks school is dull. Thomas Bell is an ordinary boy with understandable feelings of frustration and disappointment when things go wrong, but the adventures with the bushranger make him realise that life wasn’t all wonderful for people in the past either. He also realises that stealing is wrong, after Captain Thunderbolt actually steals from him. Tommy discovers that history isn’t boring and enjoys most of his adventures, but he’s very glad to get home again.
Full of precise historical details, this novel is easy to read and makes it easy to remember some of the details about the real bushranger known as Captain Thunderbolt. There is even a Q and A section at the end of the book and a historical note with details about Captain Thunderbolt’s career. One of the best ways to introduce young readers into the fascinating world of our past in Australia. There are also several other books written by the same author depicting the lives of other famous Australian bushrangers.
Written in six easy to digest chapters, the book includes some very cute black line drawings which help to set the scene. The descriptions of the area are interesting and the entire story is fun. Sometimes, though some readers may wish for even more details, but that will encourage them to read more at school or ask questions.
This is a great read with historical accuracy and enough fun to help kids thoroughly enjoy learning.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Jane Smith
Title: Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy Shoot-out at the Rock
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
Published: July 2016