My Name Is Lizzie Flynn (Claire Saxby, illus by Lizzy Newcomb, Black Dog Books)
This poignant story imagines the voyage of the real-life convict ship the Rajah, which transported women convicts from England to the new penal colony in Australia. Lizzie Flynn was sentenced for seven years for stealing a shawl. She knows she will never see home again. The women on board the ship are given a ‘useful bag’, which contains fabric, needle and thread. Lizzie can’t sew, but she and other women are taught and together they make a quilt. This quilt has become known as ‘The Rajah Quilt’ and it is now housed in the National Gallery in Canberra. Well-written with warmth and insight, this story will appeal to young readers and will inform them about the conditions on board the ships that carried convicts to Australia, especially female convicts such as Lizzie Flynn. The colourful acrylic illustrations depict ship life, while a photograph of the actual quilt and some information about it will be useful for classroom discussion. It is aimed at children aged seven and up.
Margaret Hamilton is a former children’s book publisher. She now provides freelance publishing services and runs Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage in Blackheath