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What a remarkable read; fun, exciting, appealing to the young teen population.The heroine thinks like a feisty teenager who is challenged, adaptable and vulnerable. The book is full of her emotional dilemmas and conflicting reactions towards another child with high end Asperger syndrome. It’s a healthy children’s adventure book, and it ends as as all good children’s books should…… happily.
The story highlights the importance of appreciating the often undervalued differences in people, that leave them excluded socially on the perimeters of society . The talented challenged Asperger boy is made a star who is recognised for his unique and special contribution.The openness of Emily when she cheekily chats to an man in a wheelchair leads to an essential connection that unravels a tale of corruption.It introduces teens to the concept of trusting their instincts about bad people, reviewing their perceptions of people who are not socially gifted, or disabled in some way, and understanding that people reputed to be drunks and jail birds can live a valid life, change and be unfairly maligned.
Though an easy read, it shows how crooks can operate within the law.This is pertinent for the teenagers as this is when children need to wise up, think independently and courageously.
Living in Australia, I feel that the indigenous Australian woman is introduced as a smart sensitive person,with a rich culture of folklore and mystique.The Chinese family in mining touches on generations of forgotten Chinese people in the gold rushes of the past, many buried in the red soils of this country. It enables the modern conflicting emotions toward future mining to be discussed in the classroom. It may help to dissipate racism and encourage inclusion.
Bendigo Gold, I believe, should be on the National Curriculum for Australia for year six or seven, and in Ireland for fifth and sixth class, as that is the age group that could most benefit from reading it. This is a book that every child who is disabled should read, every parent of such a child should read, and all young teens should read. It will do for emotional intelligence in teenagers what ‘The Harry Potter’ story did for literacy level in the under elevens. I can not recommend it highly enough.
Review by Debbie Giles