Kerenza: A New Australian
Kerenza has to emigrate to Australia with her family in 1911 to the South Australian Mallee where her family will farm land where it hardly ever rains. She even helps with digging a well.
Themes: migration, early farm life, sustainability, family life, history, Cornish culture, Clydesdale horses, friendship
Omnibus Books/Scholastic, Australia
Sadly Kerenza is out of print and unavailable. It is still available in libraries & schools.
What people are saying:
What a truly wonderful, moving and atmospheric story!
Relocation, and family are the themes which run through this adventure
story; it’s a bumpy road for Kerenza, but like water at the bottom of the well, deep down, Kerenza proves that she’s tough and strong, and at times a hero, particularly when it comes to runaway horses. It doesn’t come easy, however, but time and time again, she proves herself to be growing and changing, even if at first she doesn’t recognize it herself. Even Clarrie, the swagman says to her, ‘You choose to love. You choose to be happy. You choose to belong.’ But did Kerenza feel she had any choice? Kerenza is a wonderful character, who is part of a family that have their own ups and downs, and part of an extended family, where secrets are revealed and understanding develops and she’s part of a community of others who, all except Winnie, come from different countries, all trying to start a new life in South Australia.
Rosanne is a superb storyteller; it’s part of who she is. Storytelling runs through her veins, through her fingertips and into the wonderful books she writes. And I always feel in awe, and privileged, to read the next book by my friend, Rosanne, because she thinks and cares deeply about her characters and her stories, and then offers them to us to enjoy and learn from and grow ourselves. This is a book full of searching, secrets and surprises, and I have the greatest pleasure in launching Kerenza, A New Australian!
From Janeen Brian's launch speech, June 2015
Author Rosanne Hawke creates a character that modern readers can relate to. Kerenza is confused about friendships, worried about her family and frustrated that she can’t do the things she loves. Through her experiences readers learn about the very different expectations for boys and girls in the early 1900s as well as some of the cultural prejudices experienced at the time.
Rosanne Hawke offers an engaging and interesting story that entertains as well as informs. The depiction of the Australian outback and the lives of the early farming families is fascinating, as are the brief glimpses of Kerenza’s previous life in Cornwall.
Susan Whelan, Kids' Book Review
I always enjoy reading history books from a first person point of view, even if the person doesn’t quite exist, so I really enjoyed Kerenza: A New Australian. Kerenza is from Cornwall and the time is 1911. Her da (father) can no longer get work as a miner so Kerenza and most of her family move to South Australia and take up a farming life.
Life is very different in the mallee scrub; the temperature, the people she meets, the animals and plants she comes across – even the dangers she must face are different (and a lot scarier) than those back in Cornwall. Her cousins speak a strange slang and cousin Jacob, whom Kerenza believes is the meanest boy she has ever met, plays tricks on her. She deals with the strangeness she faces by writing letters, initially filled with complaints, to her older sister who stayed in Cornwall.
Hawke is fourth generation Cornish-Australian herself – her ancestors arrived from Cornwall in 1856. She includes lots of interesting historical facts when describing Kerenza’s adventures; the way bread was made, how clothes were washed and how land was cleared. There are also mentions of Welsh [sic] fairy stories.
The characters are vivid and interesting, with the exception of the children’s school teacher who was a little too contradictory for me. However, she is only a minor character. Kerenza and her troublesome family are fascinating.
Katy Gerner, Reading Time