In 1896 in the West Coast town of Brunnerton, the Brunner Mine caught fire and 65 men died. In this addition to the Scholastic My Story series, local boy Tommy Carter writes in his diary about the disaster. Everyone in Brunnerton is connected to the mine somehow and Tommy’s no exception. His dad is a carpenter there and his uncle works deep in the mine. Tommy’s journal builds the story slowly to the day of the disaster and we learn from his point of view how the fire affected the people of Brunnerton. But this story isn’t just about the true life disaster. It’s a tale of how a young boy copes with life in the late 1800’s and it’s a great snapshot of childhoods from a day gone by.
With a three page glossary to explain the many obsolete terms used in the book it’s an interesting read. There are several pages of actual photographs of the town, the schoolhouse and, more importantly, the men who worked and died in the mine.
The My Story series are well read among children and not because they’re told by the teacher to read them. These books are written in an easy-to-read style and are based around true incidents that children find fascinating. Recommended for 9+ readers. Teaching notes available.
Reviewed by Christine Hurst