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2012 Children's Book Council Awards Notable Book

Tom Appleby, Convict Boy

A story of transportation, and life in a new world, from Australia's Children's Laureate 2014–2015.

At the tender age of eight, chimney sweep Tom Appleby is convicted of stealing, and sentenced to deportation to Botany Bay. As one of the members of the First Fleet, he arrives in a country that seemingly has little to offer – or little that the English are used to, anyway.

Luckily, not long after Tom's arrival in the colony, the fair and kind Sergeant Stanley decides to take on Tom as a servant. Together, Tom, Sergeant Stanley and his son, Rob, build a house, set up an orchard and a vegetable garden for themselves, and thrive – unlike many others in the new colony.

Jackie French weaves Tom's story in with the story of the development of Australia. She tells of a colony that, despite its natural abundance, cannot offer what the colonists want – familiarity. While the people's health is better than it ever was in England, their morale is low, as they wait for news from home.

On writing the book

This is the book I knew I'd write when I was five years old. It is about the first few years of white settlement in Australia.

Even at five I knew that many of the stories about that time we were taught at school just weren't quite true. (I kept putting my hand up and saying 'But THAT'S not true Miss.' Must have been hell to teach).

Why was I so sure? Well, my mum was an historian who read me the diaries of the people who were there... and they gave a very different picture than the one in the history books.

So here is the story of an English chimney sweep, who becomes a convict... and a pioneer. 

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