Jackie French is an Australian author who has written over 140 books and has won more than 60 national and international awards. She is considered one of Australia’s most popular and awarded children’s authors, writing across a number of children’s genres including picture books, history, fantasy and history fiction. French is also an author of numerous books on ecology, gardening, pest control, wildlife and hens. It was her regular appearance on Burke’s Backyards on the television twenty years ago that encouraged my own foray into keeping chooks in the back garden.
She was awarded the 2015 Senior Australian of the Year. In 2016 French was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to literature as an author of children’s books, and as an advocate for improved youth literacy. In 2016 she received the Australian Book Industry Awards Pixie O’Harris award.
French has studied the behavior and ecology of wombats for 40 years and is the director of The Wombat Foundation, which raises funds for research into the preservation of wombats. Not surprisingly her 2002 picture book, Diary Of A Wombat, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, became an international best seller.
I’ve just stumbled across The Matilda Saga Series containing nine books commencing with A Waltz For Matilda, with twelve year old Matilda fleeing the city to be with her father, a swaggie wanted by the troopers, as in Banjo Paterson’s Waltzing Matilda, and including information about the Great Shearers Strike.
Book 2 is The Girl From Snowy River again encompassing Paterson’s poetry and covers the period of World War 1. The Road To Gundagai covers the Depression years and includes insights into the travelling circus’ of that time. This is followed by To Love A Sunburnt Country, a nod to poet, Dorothea Mackellar, covering the experience of women from the previous books and their ordeals as Prisoners Of War in Malaya during World War 2.
Book 5 is where I stepped in with The Ghost By The Billabong, continuing the generational story with references to Vietnam, the landing on the moon, and hippie culture. If Blood Should Stain The Wattle, from a poem by Henry Lawson, is Book 6 and covers cults and their impact on society as well as Gough Whitlam and the heady days of the Australian Labor Party (when equal pay came into play as well as free education and no fault divorce. And connection of the suburbs to sewerage – Go Gough!).
I’ve just ordered Books 7, 8 and 9 on Kindle. Facing The Flame covers drought and fire in the bush and the love of the land regardless of harsh times, just as we are currently witnessing. The Last Dingo Summer includes the arrival of Boat people and their assimilation into Australian culture and Clancy Of The Overflow – thank you once again Banjo Paterson – links the generations and their interconnectedness.
French describes this series as “ a love song to our land, told by the strong women who forged a nation”.
I’ve been decidedly unsociable this week thanks to the Matilda Saga Series. This YA Historic Fiction is interesting, littered with era-appropriate snippets such as the resurgence of the Australian film industry and environmental issues, combined with good, old fashioned storytelling.
Unsociable? Haven’t cooked tea once this week 🙂 Why cook when I can read?