Walker Books

July 2008

$14.95 AU

128p pb

ISBN: 978-1921150395

Ratwhiskers and Me: a powerful tale of survival on the goldfields

Lorraine Marwood

from Walker Books...

Traumatised by a fire in which the narrator's family perishes, the narrator takes on a new identity on the goldfields. There, Sun Song, a Chinese market gardener is the only one to show any kindness. The narrator flees to the Chinese camp, taking the name Lin. But Ellery, a man with links to Lin's past, is determined to take over all rights on the goldfields, setting in place a dangerous sequence of events. To survive is a test of friendship and loyalty, and a catalyst the remembering of Lin's tragic past.

A powerful atmospheric verse novel set in the Victorian goldfields in the 1800s.

If you have read this verse novel and would like to share your opinion of it with other readers please send your review or comments to YARR-A

Ratwhiskers is a dog who, with his owner Lin, stumbles into a ‘tent town’ in the time of the Victorian goldrush. Her only memory is that the dog has somehow saved her from a blazing fire and they now find themselves in another mining settlement where she has been taken on as a cook.

Written in the form of a verse novel, this book provides a snapshot of life on the goldfields highlighting the greed and cruelty of miners who would stop at nothing to make their fortunes.

Lin is befriended and ultimately saved by Pigtail, a Chinese immigrant also drawn by the lure of gold. The contempt which the miners show towards the Chinese is a powerful reminder of the racial hostilities of that time.

With its minimal use of words, this book is a quick and easy read. It could be a worthwhile addition to a class study of the Australian goldrushes, providing a personal perspective on a famous time in Australia’s history.

Irene, Canberra, Australia

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