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HISTORY'S A MYSTERY

Matt, Ben and Nicky have grown up together in the small town of Coolongawong . Now they are about to start 5th class with the schoolís most popular teacher, Mr Mac. On the first day of school a new girl joins their class. Kris canít forgive her mother for bringing her to this small town out the back of woop-woop and is determined to hate her new school. But all that is quickly forgotten when, together with her three new friends, they discover that they can go on the most amazing adventures within their classroom.

 

They find that by tripping on a creaky floorboard and saying some magic words, they can be transported back in time and discover history as it is being made in exciting, and sometimes dangerous, adventures. Mr Macís love of teaching history provides most of the destinations the four friends choose to visit. Together they meet some of historyís most famous figures, and are present at some of historyís most crucial times. Their adventures take them from Ancient Egypt to Pompeii , from Antarctica to Japan and from Camelot Castle to the Eureka Stockade, with many more places in between.  

In Store Price: $AU23.95 
Online Price:   $AU22.95

ISBN:  978-1-921240-22-5
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 164
Genre: Children's Fiction, Juvenile Fiction
 

There are some excellent reviews of this book - see below the author profile.


This book has been short-listed for the 2010 WAYRA
(Western Australia Young Readers' Award).


Author: Dell Brand 
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2007
Language: English

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Author Profile  

Dell Brand grew up in Sydney , attending North Sydney Girls High School and Sydney University . She taught in state high schools during her working life, teaching Physical and Health Education. She has been recognised with the Ministerís Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Outstanding Achievement in Education Award from the Australian College of Education.  

She has always had a keen interest in children with challenging behaviours, and worked for a number of years with a wilderness-enhanced program aimed at turning around young peopleís lives. This formed the basis of her PhD. As a teacher in this program she was able to involve herself in many of her recreational passions including abseiling, rock-climbing, wilderness trekking, canyoning and canoeing. In recent years she has developed a particular interest in family history and history in general.  

Dell is also a part-time journalist and has been published by a number of editors in Australia and abroad. She contributes regularly to four Australian magazines and frequently to newspapers. She uses her own travel experiences to write first-hand about places she has seen and people she has met. Some of these places have found their way into this book.  

Dell loves the outdoors, especially the wilderness. In her younger years she was a keen swimmer and an A grade squash player. She now enjoys all outdoor pursuits and tries to play golf regularly.  She is married with two grown-up children and lives on the south coast of New South Wales .  

This is her first childrenís book.

Read these reviews:

Krisí mother has just moved to a new job in the small town of Coolongawong. Kris is determined to dislike everything about her new home, but only until she meets three new friends Matt, Ben and Nicky. Together, in their Grade 5 classroom with their fabulous teacher Mr Mac, they discover that magic can happen with the help of an old floorboard and some magic words. 

The magic transports them back to fascinating places and times in history and they get to meet some of their heroes from the past and find out that sometimes the romantic notion we have of history disguises some very difficult and traumatic times. I would strongly recommend this book to the 10 to 12 year olds as an easy, fun read. It is an outstanding book of its kind. 

Marilyn Murray

Reviewer for the Childrenís Book Council of Australia

Reading Time Vol 52, No 4, November 2008

***

Brand brings history alive through her vivid characterisation and descriptive language in this novel. The action begins almost immediately, seizing the readerís attention. In the course of the tale a group of friends are repeatedly transported back through time. This clever book allows us to visualise the landscapes, clothing, homes and lifestyles typical of the periods visited. The author skilfully gives her audience a taste of a wide variety of historical events, places and personalities, including ancient Egypt, Hiroshima, the Eureka Stockade incident and the eruption of Mt Vesuvius. This book is sure to whet studentsí appetite and inspire a desire to discover more about the history of our world. It could be used both as a fiction text, and as a supplement for historical learning experiences. 

Lee Doyle, Matthew Pearce Public School

Curriculum K-12 Directorate

Scan Magazine, Vol 27, No 3, August 2008 

User Level: Stage 3 Stage 4

 

Chapter 1:

The New Kid  

 

Nothing much ever changed in Coolongewong. That was, until Kris and her mum moved into town. Then such strange things started to happen that nothing was ever the same again. At least not for Kris. And not for the three new friends, Matt, Ben and Nicky, whom she was about to meet.

Those three friends had been together ever since they had been in nappies. Coolongewong was such a small town that they had been in the same class through pre-school, kinder and ever since. Now they were about to start Grade 5 at the primary school and were looking forward to having Mr Mac as their new teacher. Not that he was much to look at. He was really old, with silvery-grey, curly hair that grew out of his head like saggy coils on an old mattress. He had wrinkles all over his brown arms and face and he wore thick, coke-bottle glasses on his nose. But his mind was razor-sharp and all his past students just adored him. His real name was Mr McIlquham but everyone just called him Mr Mac. With a name like that, it was understandable. Nobody could even pronounce his real name, let alone spell it.

He had been at their school for nearly forever and the kids all agreed that he was a wicked teacher. His last yearís fifth had been the envy of the school. The word was that he did fun stuff in his classroom and took his class out into the playground to do special things, like building forts and castles, playing pirates and so on. But best of all, even his ordinary lessons were supposed to be fun. He told exciting stories in history and made jokes all through maths Ė as unlikely as that may sound.

Ben wasnít too sure that school could ever be fun, but he was looking forward to having Mr Mac as a teacher anyway. Ben didnít like school much. He really only came because his two best friends were there Ė and because he had to. He tried hard to avoid any deep thinking whenever he could, mostly leaving that to his mate, Matt. Ben just followed along. Matt was the thinker, the one who always thought things out before he did them. Ben was much happier kicking a footy around or playing cricket.

It was funny that Matt and Ben were such good mates, as they were dead opposites as far as looks went as well. Matt was tall and thin, with short curly hair and soft grey eyes. Heíd look at you with those eyes and you could just tell sometimes that he was far away in his own thoughts. Ben, on the other hand, was small and tough with black hair and flashing, dark brown eyes. He was a doer, not a thinker. He was a champion at all sports. It didnít matter which one. Even if Ben had never played a game before, heíd pick it up really quickly and soon be the best in the class.

Nickyís eyes were dark brown too. Her real name was Nicole but nobody ever called her that. Unless her dad got really mad at her, but that rarely happened. She had curly brown hair and a wide flat nose. She never needed sunscreen and could stay out in the sun all day long and not burn. Nicky was a great mate too. She was fun to be around and the boys found it hard to remember sometimes that she was only a girl. She could run and swim and tackle as hard as any bloke in a game of footy. Nickyís mum had died soon after she was born and her dad had raised her. He was a Koori. His name was Mr Maher and he worked in the Wollendidgee National Park , about twenty minutes out of town. He was an interpretation officer Ė whatever that meant, but he sure knew heaps about the bush. Ben loved to go out with Nicky and her dad. He could tell what animals had recently been at a creek crossing and what birds were nesting in the trees overhead. He knew all the birdcalls and could spot berries you could eat a mile off. And, best of all, Nickyís dad seemed to like having Ben around.

And Ben liked that too, as Ben didnít have a dad of his own. No, thatís not entirely true. He did have one, but he lived in the city and Ben hadnít seen him for five or so years. It hurt him that his dad forgot his birthdays and never rang him up. He wanted to see him. He wanted a dad. Mostly he lied to people and just told them he didnít have a father. But Matt knew the truth. He also knew how hurt Ben felt and so he never talked about it or brought the subject up. Ben was grateful for that.

Matt had a mum and a dad, and two pesky little sisters who were forever getting what they wanted by whining and carrying on. Matt hated them. Well, not exactly hated, but certainly didnít want them around him all the time. He liked to escape after school and sometimes he met Nicky and Ben down by the river. He liked to swim with his friends and fish by himself when they werenít around. He wasnít exactly a loner but he did enjoy his own company at times. Fishing gave him time to think. And thinking was great fun. He loved history and most of all he liked to imagine he lived in times long past, at one time being a Knight of the Round Table at Camelot, or Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, or even a pirate on the high seas.

But a long time ago he found out that he couldnít share these mental adventures with Ben, as much as he would have liked to, because Ben didnít seem to have too much of an imagination.  If heíd mention Ďhigh seasí to Ben, Ben would think heíd be talking about the king tides on the coast at Christmas time when he went on holidays with his mum. Nicky was better. She could be his Queen Guinevere or his Maid Marian. She loved the make-believe and they could talk together for hours about how it would have been to be alive then and the adventures they would have had. Little did they know then what was going to happen to them that year at school. Their dreaming and make-believe was kindergarten stuff compared to what was to come.

 

The long, hot, Australian summer was still far from over and school was about to go back when the fourth person in this story, Kris, arrived in town with her mum. Nickyís dad had mentioned a few weeks back that he was getting a new boss out at Wollendidgee, but no-one had expected it to be a woman. Mrs Foster took up her new post and quickly got the thumbs up from the staff at the national park. Nickyís dad liked her a lot. But her daughter Kristen was a bit of a mystery. They knew she had arrived, but nobody had seen her about. She didnít stick her nose outside the door from the time of her arrival until the first day of school. And they didnít know then that that was because she had a huge dose of the sulks.

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