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  • Sail the high seas
  • Ride a horse
  • Tow a caravan
  • Travel overseas
  • Be a ball boy
  • Meet a mermaid
  • Go gold digging
  • Meet a refugee
  • Sell some rabbits
  • Lose your father

…Mr Mardel sure brings Australia’s rich culture and heritage alive with this collection of short stories. ..I feel an overwhelming feeling to visit the country. 

The language is lucid …with no over-the-top dramatic moments. My favourite story is “Flames and wells and sacred sites” because it was enlightening to read what a monastic life could be like. And there’s an unexpected ending. Another story that I liked was “The white shirt” which has humour and an example of a weird superstition about not washing the white shirt. 

The bibliography is extensive. A book for kids and adults.

Unknown reviewer.

This book takes you from the fanciful to the silly, to some very serious issues in today’s world. “A long way to freedom” is most liked. It is about a refugee family of Shi’ite Muslims from Afghanistan. After a long struggle they finally arrive in Australia (via Nauru) but are only given 3 years to prove they can live without government assistance. They are a good family and if they were to (return) to Afghanistan it would mean bad things for the family for reasons the mother mentions in the story. We are all people and we all deserve peace and freedom.

Anastasia reviewer.

…This is a collection of adventurous historical fiction stories. Each story has its own life and rhythm. …My favourite is “Dogalogue”…This story gives a voice to a spunky Jack Russell terrier named Trixie. She is writing to her owner from doggie heaven (explaining) why she did many of the things that normally puzzle (we) humans.

I liked “Game, set match” …The message is not to give up on your dreams. ..While his classmates ridiculed him, Raphael continued to practice to be a ball boy at the Monte Carlo Country Club.

Later venue is set at the Australian Open.

The story that touched my heart the most is “A long road to freedom”. (see previous review). Michael Mardel has done an excellent job on all ten stories. You really feel like you know each character personally by the time you are done reading. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have.

Unknown reviewer.

 

You may do all these things in this collection of Australian short stories for boys (& girls)

Email Michael for the pre-paid $5 eBook which will then be emailed to you as a pdf. attachment.  Email Michael for an invoice with EFT details.

OR order via email an A5 paperback copy for $15 and $6 express postage

Sample story: The Brumby.

John was short for his age but that didn’t stop him from trying out for the football team. Ever since he could walk he was kicking a football. His Dad encouraged him at first but then his mother died and everything changed.

He hurried home to prepare the home for the evening meal. It wasn’t much of a place, a bark hut that let in the draughts and nearly made the open fire go out. At least they had an oven on which to cook their meals.

Tonight there was rabbit to be baked plus a few vegies from their garden which he had peeled. Soon, both fires were going nicely so he got out his homework, sums and writing. It was all rather boring and he couldn’t see the point of it if he was going to be a woodchopper like his Dad.

But he couldn’t concentrate. Thoughts of his Dad and the school bully

cluttered his mind. He wished he had his mother back as she used to listen to him, offering a cuddle which swept away all the day’s bad things. He wanted to tell her how he hated having to rush home to prepare the evening meal. How he was bowled over numerous times at footy practice.

His Dad didn’t understand his need to be held, if only for a short hug. At least he had his horse to ride to and from school. He was sure this horse had a story to tell of life in the high country. His Dad had roped him one day whilst both were hiding in a thicket. It was the sun shining on the white flash on his forehead that gave him away. Then followed weeks of trying to break him in though he never took to the saddle. John was the only one who could ride him so the horse became his school transport and a certain amount of freedom.

One day a new boy came to his school who was an Aborigine. He was old enough to be in John’s class but he needed to do Bub’s or first year’s work

because he’d always lived in the high country and been walkabout so he’d had no schooling. His name was Leroy or something like it; it’s what Mr Jones called him. Fortunately they were all in the same room so he didn’t stand out too much, except he was black and he did Bub’s work. Apparently Leroy had been brought in by the police and was living with a white family in town who had plenty of room. He even had his own bedroom, not like John’s corner in his draughty hut.

Once the class got used to Leroy’s strangeness, Mr Jones had a brainwave and asked Leroy to tell them a story about where he had been before coming to school. It was like drawing nails because he didn’t like standing out the front of the classroom. The rest of the class was expecting a reprieve from their work. No chance. Mr Jones had the big kids write down Leroy’s story as part of dictation and the most accurate and neatest would get a prize. John was sure he wouldn’t get the prize as his work was always messy. At least they weren’t staring at Leroy the whole time. Here’s what John remembered of Leroy’s story, with a lot of help from Mr Jones.

‘ My name is horse.

I live in the high country, in the mountains where there are many of my kind. I can remember being a foal and travelling for many days amidst  the trees and bushes. I remember being hungry but had to wait until   it was dark before I could graze. I remember many things and some   things that others of my kind do not remember.

I am special because no man has ever ridden me. I am special be  cause I have a white mark on my forehead and the other horses show   me great respect.

I am many hands high and I love to gallop. I love the chill of the winter   snow and the heat of summer. I love to run and dodge the trees and   the holes in the ground. I love the smell of dew-laden grass and the   taste is exquisite.’

Here Mr Jones stopped Leroy and they all sighed with relief. What a lot of writing. This was going to take weeks for Leroy’s story to unfold and John had writer’s cramp.

John wondered if the story was true but he wasn’t going to be the one   to ask him; he’d leave that for Mr Jones.

The next day Leroy came up to John as he arrived on his horse and   patted it. He murmured ‘Brumby’ and John knew that his horse story was   true. Leroy offered to take John out to the cave where the horse and he first   met.  John told him next Saturday would be good so they arranged to meet at first light.

 

 

 

That night John told his Dad that he was getting up early on Saturday to go and look at a cave with Leroy. Jim wanted to know all about Leroy and was none too pleased to find out he was an Aborigine.

‘Nothing good comes from being with that lot’, Jim said. ‘Don’t believe everything he tells you and make sure he doesn’t pinch anything either. Where are you meeting?’

‘At school, first thing,’ John said.

‘OK, but remember what I told you and make sure you’re home before dark. I don’t want to be traipsing around the countryside looking for you. Got that?’

‘Yes, Dad,’ John said softly.

John had woken early and sneaked out of bed, taking a crust for breakfast. He didn’t want to talk to his father who would only remind him to be home before dark.

He walked the horse to the road before galloping off down the track. Soon he was near the school and sure enough, there was Leroy. The horse nuzzled him as he held out a carrot. John reached down and helped Leroy up behind him.

They walked the horse slowly so Leroy could remember his journey from the cave to the town. Soon they found the cave where Leroy had hidden from the government man and where the horse didn’t want to go. They then walked to other places where Leroy had stayed and he showed John which berries were safe to eat.

When the sun was at its zenith, Leroy caught a small mammal which they roasted over a warming fire. It was still the wet season so a fire was safe in the mountains.

While they ate, Leroy told how he was captured by the government man, how he was then taken into the village

‘I was untied and led into their house and into a room where a boy found some old clothes for me to try on. They weren’t as warm as my possum cloak but I was told not to wear it again until it had been cleaned.

‘And of course, I had to be cleaned as well. And they left me alone to do that, after miming washing with soap and drying with towels.’

‘At least you had running water and a warm place to do it in,’ John said. ‘I’ve got to fetch water and heat it so I only wash once a week.’

After making sure the fire was well and truly out and buried, they rode back to town. But near their first cave, the heavens opened and they sought refuge, even the horse.

John had matches so they made another fire and used some lighted sticks to check out the back of the cave. There were no drawings, only fire-blackened walls, with a few handprints.

The storm seemed to rage forever and John was worried about his Dad’s reaction to him returning after dark. It couldn’t be helped as they wouldn’t be able to find their way, not even Leroy or the horse.

When it was dark and the rain had ceased, they could hear voices and see lanterns in the distance. They yelled ‘coo-ee’ and soon their rescuers found them, though they were nearly home. Jim was amongst them and only scowled at his son. He didn’t say anything until they got home.

‘What’s the thing you like the most?’ Jim asked.

John bowed his head. ‘My horse.’

‘Then you will forfeit it for a fortnight’, he said.

John’s lip trembled but he forced himself not to cry.

‘Now dry yourself off and go to bed!’

‘But I’m hungry.’

‘Too bad. I’m off to the pub to thank your rescuers. And I’ll know if you pinch any food, not that there’s much here.’

Jim left and after hanging up his wet clothes in front of the fire, John climbed into bed. As he drifted off to sleep, warm and snug, he relived his day. He was glad to be home and dry and he felt sad that he couldn’t make it home by dark. He’d miss his horse and he tried not to cry about it. Best of all, he had a new friend who could show him lots of interesting things.

 

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