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