Saturday, November 21, 2009

A new My Story title

No Survivors: the Diary of Jackie Simms, Hamilton, 1979
By Sharon Holt (Scholastic)

Twelve year old Jackie Simms is crazy about Abba and is constantly teased about it from her older brother Jeff. Jackie is at the age where she is discovering herself and the things she’s good at. Along with her best friend Maria, Jackie frequents the roller rink in Hamilton and finds she has a natural talent for it. Like any other pre-teen girl, Jackie struggles with the transition out of childhood and argues with 17 year old Jeff. And to make matters worse she’s in love with his best mate Davey, who only sees her as Jeff’s little sis.

Jeff and Davey are invited along by Jeff’s uncle on an Air NZ scenic flight over Antarctica. The two teenagers save hard throughout the book, much to Jackie’s dismay – she can’t understand why anyone would want to fly over an area devoid of colour.

As with all ‘My Story’ books, tragedy is about to strike. For those who were around in 1979 we can recall the events of Nov 28 and the impact it was to have on all New Zealanders.

This story is a great snapshot of New Zealand (and in particular Hamilton) that will bring to life the highs and lows of 1979. For some of us it’s a trip down memory lane - for the younger generation it will be a poignant history lesson about New Zealand’s worse air disaster. The use of ‘random thoughts’ throughout the journal injects some humour into what could easily have been a morose read.

Unlike many of the ‘My Story’ books, the incident in this story is well within the living memory of most New Zealanders. Skillfully written, Sharon Holt has created an entertaining read that recounts with respect the recent events of the Mt Erebus disaster.

Sharon Holt Sharon was born in Auckland, and has been a published writer since 2001. She has published 24 fiction and nonfiction stories, picture books, poems and plays. Her stories are
about daily family life, and many of her children’s stories have a ‘story behind the story’.
She now lives in the small Waikato town of Kihikihi. Sharon was short-listed for the 2007 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young People and also made the Storylines 2007 Notable Books list for her non-fiction book: It's True! You can make your own Jokes'.

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Reviewed by Christine Hurst

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