Rebellion at Eureka (Alan Tucker, Scholastic)
It’s 1854, and now that Alf is 13 years old and finally done with school, he wants some independence. But his mum has other ideas, moving their general store business from Melbourne to the booming goldfields of Ballarat. Alf doesn’t want to be a shopkeeper all his life, but he’s also worried that his dad, who left them for the California Gold Rush four years ago, won’t know where to find them when—or if—he returns. The goldfields of Ballarat are a whole new world: chaotic, sprawling, dangerous and, to Alf, exciting. His new friends the diggers tell him tales of hard work, gold dust and the constant and worsening police harassment. Alf and his mother look on as tensions worsen and talk turns to rebellion. Alan Tucker is an award-winning YA historical novelist and his experience serves well here. His Eureka goldfield is a lively and vivid sketch, filled with memorable characters and well-researched details. Tucker does not shy away from the hardships and violence of frontier life, with several on-page deaths. This is a recommended read for upper primary and lower secondary readers in search of a true-life adventure.
Heath Graham is a teacher and former bookseller