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The Blue-Eyed Aborigine
     

The Blue-Eyed Aborigine

by Rosemary Hayes
 

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This is the story of a cabin boy called Jan Pelgrom and a soldier involved in a notorious mutiny after the shipwreck of the Batavia off Western Australia in 1629. Unlike most of the other mutineers who were hanged, the two men were marooned on the Australian mainland and become Australia's very first European settlers.

Although the Batavia mutiny and shipwreck

Overview


This is the story of a cabin boy called Jan Pelgrom and a soldier involved in a notorious mutiny after the shipwreck of the Batavia off Western Australia in 1629. Unlike most of the other mutineers who were hanged, the two men were marooned on the Australian mainland and become Australia's very first European settlers.

Although the Batavia mutiny and shipwreck are well documented, no one knows what happened to the two men after they were abandoned. However, later European explorers to the region reported coming across Aboriginal Australians with blue eyes. Rosemary Hayes' intriguing novel suggests what might have happened in between.

This is an Intriguing, hard-hitting story: the first half is based on historical events,the second half is fictional. The author, whose Australian background gives authenticity to the story, is establishing herself as a writer on edgy subjects, following her previous books Mixing It, which deals with a relationship between Muslim and non-Muslim teenagers, and Payback, which is about forced marriage.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up— Jan Pelgrom dreamed of seeing the world via a trading ship, but the conditions aboard the Batavia in 1629 are vile and, as a cabin boy, he is bullied by the sailors and despised by the passengers. The unruly crew is disgusted by the apparent ineptitude of their commander and a mutiny occurs. When the Batavia is shipwrecked off the Australian coast, the teen is manipulated by evil Jeronimus Corneliez, under whose orders he commits unspeakable acts of violence, becoming intoxicated with a disturbing sense of power. Jan is saved from hanging as a mutineer and abandoned with Wouter Looes, the only crew member who had befriended him. He finds happiness with the native Aborigines, who believe he is an ancestral spirit and approve of his union with one of their young women. The stomach-turning descriptions of putrid odors and vermin aboard ship, the mutiny, and the slaughter of innocents will be hard reading for some, but is not gratuitous. The question to be pondered by thoughtful readers is whether redemption through loving kindness—such as the transformation Jan undergoes once he befriends the natives—is realistic. The tale, which is told in two parts and shifting points of view, is based on a true story. It is a well-documented, thrilling adventure.—Jackie Gropman, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library System, Fairfax, VA
Kirkus Reviews

Noble savages adopt a young mutineer in this tale spun around the possible first arrival of European settlers to Australia.

Vividly depicted as a wretched hive of scum and villainy (the first page alone contains references to lice, filth, fetid odors and piss), the Dutch trading ship Batavia strikes a reef in far western Australia, and while part of the crew sets off in a small boat to seek rescue, the rest begin ruthlessly raping and/or murdering the hapless passengers. Seventeen-year-old cabin boy Jan is reluctantly forced to join in the general rapine to stay alive himself—and, instead of being hanged with the rest of the mutineers when relief arrives, is marooned with a companion on the mainland. Abruptly and inexplicably switching from third-person past-tense to first-person present with alternating narrators, Hayes then sends him inland to meet, befriend, learn the ropes of survival from and ultimately raise a family among a group of helpful, welcoming, generous, generic Aboriginals who believe him an ancestral spirit. Nonetheless, the author sticks closely to 17th-century records of the actual mutiny and closes with a note about later events and Jan's possible native descendants.

Gutwrenching (and no more explicit than necessary) in the early going and a romantic idyll by the end, despite the hinky narration, this illuminates an intriguing byway of Aussie history. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781847801425
Publisher:
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Publication date:
04/01/2011
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

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