Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy – Outback Adventure, book review


Title: Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy – Outback Adventure
by: Jane Smith
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

Tommy Bell’s safe outback holiday on a farm with Martin and Combo is turned upside down when Martin finds a pair of magic old bushranger’s boots. This time, when Tommy’s cabbage-tree hat sends him back to the past, his friend Martin is right there beside him.
The boys join their new friend, Harry, and his gang on a long cattle-droving expedition across Outback Australia. For once it seems as if a journey to the past might be pure, fun adventure, without any risk of running into bushrangers. But why did Harry lie about his past? And who are the ‘thievin’’ McKenzies? It looks like Tommy and Martin’s ‘Outback Adventure’ might be more dangerous than they expected …

Australian history has never been more interesting. Author, Jane Smith, has captured the life of bushranger, Harry Readford, with accurate observation through the eyes of young characters, Tommy Bell and Martin.

Tommy is invited to the middle of nowhere by his friend, Martin. He finds himself at Bowen Downs Station, right in the middle of Queensland. Tommy becomes concerned when Martin discovers a pair of old boots in a cave. He throws on his cabbage tree hat at the same time that Martin puts on the old boots as he is worried about what will happen to his friend. His suspicions of a time machine are confirmed when they go back to 1870. Tommy is well acquainted with the time machine, as his secret treasured hat is also one, and has already taken him on other history adventures.

Tommy and Martin find themselves part of the famous Harry Readford’s gang on a long cattle droving expedition across outback Australia. When Tommy and Martin discover that the cattle are stolen, they choose to return to the present. But the adventure doesn’t stop there…

Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy – Outback Adventure, is the fourth book in the Tommy Bell, Bushranger Boy collection – a remarkable Australian series where fictional characters watch Australian history unfold before their eyes. I highly recommend it for educational institutions and independent readers.

Purchase a copy:Tommy-Bell-Bushranger- Outback Adventure

Teacher notes: Australian Bushranger Series by Jane Smith Teacher Notes.pdf

Title: Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy – Outback Adventure
by: Jane Smith
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-925520-84-2
Category: primary school age children
Pages: 105


Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)

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To the Moon and Back, book review

to the moon and back

Title: To the Moon and Back
by: Dianne Bates
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

Claire’s mum has been keeping secrets … and now she’s left Claire’s dad and dragged her to live in a run-down shack in the country!

Claire is definitely not happy. Not only has she had to leave her dad, her friends and her perfectly good life in the city, but now she has to deal with her mum’s new boyfriend, ‘Mac’.

With Claire’s mum apparently in love the Mac and their new life, it looks like it’s up to Claire to bring her ‘real’ family back together again.


Claire is an eight year old girl whose life is turned up-side-down. Her seemingly happy life changes in an instant, when one night, while Claire’s dad is at work, Claire’s mum leaves the house with her and they never return.

Claire is devastated. She loves her father more than anything.

But her mother keeps insisting that Claire knows why they must leave…

Then to Claire’s dismay, she discovers her mother has a new man in her life. Mac. He is kind and gentle, but Claire has trouble liking him because she just wants her dad back, and he will never take the place of her real father.

Claire’s life takes a turn for the worse when her new family moves to live in a run-down shack in the country at Dr Harry Mountain. There is no electricity and no toilet—just the hole in the ground way down the path through the long grass. And there is no door to the toilet!
Claire’s new life is everything she hates.

But slowly, things change. There’s a dog, a goat, a new school, new friends and new adventures, and the sun starts to shine a little brighter for Claire.

Author, Dianne Bates has woven the topic of domestic violence into her chapter book, To the Moon and Back with gentleness. Lurking in the background of the story are memory flashes of Claire’s father hitting her mum with little detail, but enough to understand that physical violence is happening. Claire would then remember her father being overly apologetic and super nice afterwards lavishing them with flowers and gifts and whatnot.

However, over-riding the issue of violence which is lightly touched upon in the story, is the never ending love Grace has for her daughter. Claire is loved to the moon and back, even when she is bombarded with emotions of guilt and hate and anger and says unkind things to Mac out of disappointed and rejection by her father. The upheaval in Claire’s life is absolutely an emotional rollercoaster ride. Up-ending a life to start another is fraught with uncertainties and apprehension, with anxiety high on the list, not to mention starting a new school and making new friends. Claire’s reaction to her new situation is understandable.

To the Moon and Back is a journey of emotions of an eight year old girl, named Claire. It is also a story of hope, of new beginnings and happiness that returns in leaps and bounds.

Purchase a copy:

Title: To the Moon and Back
by: Dianne Bates
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781+25520293
Category: children’s fiction
Pages: 291

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Drinker, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)

Member of:
Queensland Writers Centre
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Wombat Warriors – a book review




Wombat Warriors
by: Samantha Wheeler
Publisher: University of Queensland Press




Mouse by name, mouse by nature. Mouse is not prepared for her last-minute stay at Aunt Evie’s. How will she cope at a new school without her parents around?
But before Mouse has even unpacked her suitcase, she makes a new friend – a wombat called Miss Pearl! Suddenly, being in a strange cottage doesn’t seem so bad, especially when she can snuggle up with a wombat.

Mouse soon learns that not everyone in the area loves wombats, including Aunt Evie’s landlord, a sheep farmer who destroys them on sight.

Can Mouse find her voice in time to keep her furry friends safe?

You have a wombat for a pet? I don’t, but Aunt Evie does in Samantha Wheeler’s chapter book, Wombat Warriors.

Action packed from the first words, we follow a girl named Mouse as she comes to live with her Aunt Evie for six weeks, by necessity. The Brisbane city girl is thrown into a South Australian country setting, and has to quickly learn to adapt to the farm way of life, good and bad, happy and heartbreaking, challenging and rewarding.

Wombats are incredibly adorable creatures. And there is no doubt that you will love them even more when you meet Miss Pearl and read about her cheeky antics. Intrigue sets in however, after we meet farm boy, Harry. He has a secret he keeps close to his heart. Meanwhile, the main character, Mouse, who has a small voice but a very big heart, finds that her love for wombats helps her to break through her introverted nature to become a true wombat warrior.

This primary school age chapter book will have you turning the pages as you read the inspiring tale that has wildlife conservation at the heart. You will fall in love with three wombats: Miss Pearl, Willow and Fatticake, and their cute wombat-edness will find an extra-special place in your heart. Readers will be rolling their eyes at Aunt Evie and the way she always gets the end of clichés wrong. Plus there’s the cranky Mrs Campbell, who will keep you guessing about her behaviour until the end.

Author, Samantha Wheeler has cleverly woven wombat facts into her story, as well as adding a section at the back of the book called “WOMBAT-OLOGY”. Wombat Warriors is most definitely an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable book for all children, especially those who are animal lovers with a passion for conservation. I highly recommend this book for independent readers, shared reading, and for use in educational settings.

Purchase a copy of Wombat Warriors at:
Connect with Samantha Wheeler at:

Title: Wombat Warriors
by: Samantha Wheeler
Publisher: UQP
ISBN: 978 0 7022 5958 6
Category: Children’s & Young Adult
Pages: 192

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Editor, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)

Member of:
QLD Writers Centre
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Share Your Story