Tuesday 21 December 2021

The Secret Battle

The Secret Battle by Pamela Rushby, illustrated by Fiona McDonald (Eagle Press) RRP $17.99 ISBN 9780648815426

Reviewed by Wendy Haynes

Roddy Malone has just started back to school in Brisbane in 1942, after threats of war with Japan. Right after the Darwin bombing, deep trenches were dug in Roddy’s school grounds, sandbags stacked against buildings in the city street.

 Though only nine, Roddy was proud to start his first job as a newsboy selling newspapers on the busy streets of Brisbane. He befriends three American soldiers who take him under their wing when he is picked on by two older boys, also newsboys trying to muscle in on his turf.

But one evening on his way home, Roddy witnesses a street fight between America and Australian soldiers. After helping an injured American soldier and reporting the riot to his boss Mr. Sadler, the story was never reported on or recorded in the newspaper Roddy sold, and in fact, it was kept low-key at the time.

Author Pamela Rushby explores and tells that story in this historical junior middle-grade novel and spans from 1942 to 1945. Roddy takes the injured American soldier Hank to his place -- where else could they go? Nursed back to health by Roddy’s single mother, they become close friends.

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