Action-packed story in the mines

That Boy Jack<br><b>Janeen Brian</b><br><i>Walker Books</i>
That Boy Jack<br><b>Janeen Brian</b><br><i>Walker Books</i>
Jack Pollock has a problem. A few years ago he and his best friend Gilbert Oates had solemnly promised each other that one day they would follow their fathers and work in the copper mine at Moonta, South Australia. In 1874 mining was a dirty and dangerous job, but there were precious few options open to poor families struggling to make a living.

The boys are going on 12 when the story begins and have to help with chores at home before and after school to ease the burden on their hardworking parents.

At first, Jack sees working at the mine as an exciting prospect, but after he experiences a panic attack in the pitch-black of a disused mineshaft he and Gilbert are exploring he begins to realise he may not be cut out for a life working underground.

He enjoys school but knows a promise is a promise, especially one made to your best friend.

After Gilbert's father is seriously injured at work, Gilbert feels he has to help bring in an income for the family. He begins working at the mine, beginning in the sorting shed grading ore.

A short while later Jack joins him, against his mother's wishes: she knows he is a clever boy and has further education in mind for him. Then one moonless night Jack's young sister Dorrie develops a life-threatening fever. Jack needs all his courage to walk cross-country for several miles with just a lantern's light to help him avoid sheer cliffs on one side and abandoned mineshafts on the other, to fetch the doctor.

Janeen Brian spins a cracking yarn here, one that young action-hungry readers will not want to put down. The chores just might have to wait!

- Rene Nol is a Dunedin reader


Add a Comment

Local journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Otago Daily Times reporters and photographers continue to bring you the stories that matter. For more than 158 years our journalists have provided readers with local news you can trust. This is more important now than ever.

As advertising drops off during the pandemic, support from our readers is crucial. You can help us continue to bring you news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter