Kerenza: A New Australian by R. Hawke (Omnibus Books for Scholastic Australia)
PB RRP $15.99
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop
It’s 1911. Karenza and her family have left their village in Cornwall to begin a new life in Australia. Unhappy with this change, Karenza finds the new country and life in the Mallee strange and frightening. But she is determined to be brave for her Da and Mam’s sake so along with her two younger siblings, she helps the family to carve a farm out of the endless bush and flies, and along the way, makes many new friends.
A New Australian is a wonderful series telling stories of young immigrants, from a child’s perspective. Soaked in early Australian history, these are tales of fitting in, acceptance, hardship, building new lives and friendships. But above all, they are really engaging stories with strong characters and voices.
Karenza is a gutsy girl who is prepared to work hard. She is independent and thinks for herself, but is also a family girl, pining for her older sister who stayed behind in Cornwall with her fiancée. She is loyal to her friends and will stand up for what is right.
Young teenage readers will relate to her, empathise with her troubles, share her horror at the snakes in the drop dunny, and become drawn into the life of Karenza and her family.
This series also complements studies on Australian history for early high school students.