Fourteen year old Gunnedah 'Gunnie' Danson inherits a manuscript written by his great-great-great grandfather. As he's reading about Smokey 'Gun' Danson's adventure when he was exactly the same age, Gunnie takes us along for the ride.
Award-winning Australian author Clancy Tucker tells two stories at once going seamlessly between drought-ravaged Australia in 1910 and modern-day Australia where farmers also face hardships due to drought. And Mr. Tucker involves the reader with the lives of the two boys simultaneously.
Tasked with a job that would normally have been undertaken by older 'drovers' Smokey moves cattle away from his homestead Wiralee Station to a destination many towns away with only his trusty dogs, a pack-horse and the horse he rides. Along the way he learns the value of his animals, to trust his instincts, and the meaning of friendship. In the process, he is introduced to Aboriginal 'bush magic' for food and medicine. Smokey's journey is fraught with danger; the terrain, the elements, wild life and some unscrupulous characters. But the young man finds his inner strength and shoulders his burden well to surpass the expectations of family, friends and his love interest Molly.
With a selfless act and guided by a true sense of what is the right thing to do, Smokey is rewarded for his good deed and recognized for the hero that he is. That in turn allows him to repay some kindnesses and ensure that his family's land and homestead withstand the threat of drought in the future, and that the family business thrives for generations to come.
Gunnie reading Smokey's detailed account from Wiralee Station, the exact place his great-great-great grandfather had been so passionate about, comes to share in that passion. When Wiralee is under threat once more, Gunnie vows to protect it and Smokey reaches out from the past to help.
Gunnedah Hero is about perseverance, respect, generosity and believing in yourself; woven into a delightful, heartwarming, hopeful tale that is just plain fun to read. The author infuses the story with 'Aussie' expressions and vivid descriptions that really bring it to life and give it that sense of time and place.
I think this book is classroom-worthy. I would also encourage adults to read it and to get it for the young people in the family. What a wonderful way to encourage young people to read and bring about some great discussion.
Love ya work Mr. Clancy Tucker and I'll be reading the sequel 'A Drover's Blanket' next!