The Horses Didn’t Come Home by Pamela Rushby is a beautiful story of loyalty and courage that highlights the bond between the Australian Light Horse soldiers and their horses. This Australian novel tells the story of the victorious cavalry charge at Beersheba in the Sinai Desert in 1917 during World War I, which is in contrast to the horrific events at Gallipoli.
The story begins with 16-year-old Harry and his family on aQueenslandproperty in 1914. Army officers arrive at Henderson’s Run seeking horses for the Light Horse regiments forFrance,England,Egypt and the Middle East. Harry and his friend Jack decide that they want to serve in the Australian Army as Light Horsemen. When Harry’s horse becomes lame prior to departure, Harry’s sister Laura allows him to take her beloved horse Bunty.
The story is told through two characters’ points of view – Jack and his sister Laura. Much of Jack’s story is told though letters to his family, even letters to Laura from Bunty informing them of his training and battles during his two year deployment in Egypt and the Middle East.
The book’s title pinpoints the story’s ending. The Horses Didn’t Come Home is an accessible and beautifully written historical war novel for students in Years 7-10. It is sure to provide readers with new knowledge and understanding about Australia’s Light Horse regiments during World War I and the infamous cavalry charge at Beersheba.
I highly recommend this book.
Deborah Ellis’, best known at OLMC for her Parvana trilogy, depicts the disparity between Indian social classes in her latest novel The Best Day of My Life through the eyes of a young orphan girl, Valli. Daily life for Valli in the coal mining area ofJharia,India, is hard to say the least. She fights to overcome hunger, overcrowding and her uncle’s abuse. Valli earns a meagre living collecting coal and she is not allowed to attend school. Her greatest fear is being thrown to the ‘monsters’ in the nearby leper camp. This is truly a story of courage, hope and resilience.
On the best day of her life Valli discovers that the people she believed to be her family were not. Seeking a better life Valli stows away on a truck headed for Kolkata (Calcutta). She calls upon her innate bravery and resourcefulness to survive by begging and ‘borrowing’, unaware that she too is infected with leprosy. Fortunately Valli meets a doctor to offers to treat her “magic feet” in a leprosy hospital. But first she must decide whether she can trust this doctor and overcome her fear of lepers who she once considered as “monsters”. Over time Valli becomes compassionate for her fellow leprosy suffers and finds her place in a community filled with support, love and care. Importantly Valli sees hope for her future.
The novel is a highly recommended read for students in Years 7-9. The author has included notes on leprosy and a glossary of Indian terms. With its short chapters The Best Day of My Life is an accessible and easy read for students and is a compelling tale of a person’s strength over adversity.
2012 has been declared the National Year of Reading (NYR) in Australia It is a year that will foster and promote the life-long love and pleasure of reading.
At the OLMC Library the NYR will be about encouraging students to read and to read more widely and ensuring that keen readers find new sources of inspiration. We want OLMC students, staff and parents to discover and re-discover the magic of books and storytelling. The library plans to mark this special year with reading and literary events and activities to highlight the importance of reading and literature.
For more information on the NYR 2012, you can check out the Love2Read website at http://www.love2read.org.au