Sunday, August 15, 2010


The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound by Sandy Nelson, HarperCollins NZ
Eleven-year-old Paddy is haunted by 1,023 ghosts – the sailors who died in the Battle of Savo Island in 1942, the first naval battle at Guadalcanal. The ghosts compel Paddy to ask his grandfather about his experiences of the battle, because he was a survivor of the sinking of HMAS Canberra. His grandfather gives Paddy an account of his experiences which he’d written to calm his recurring nightmares. Shortly after that Paddy’s grandfather dies. But the ghosts still don’t leave Paddy in peace until he tells their story to the wider world.

This first-time author set herself a hard task in writing a book about the sinking of an Australian battle cruiser. Bringing such historical events into the present day and making them relevant to today’s young New Zealanders is not easy. However the author writes fluently and confidently, and she has done a huge amount of research into her topic. Intermediate-aged boys who are keen on war stories should enjoy this story. I look forward to Sandy Nelson’s next historical novel. See Teaching Notes here.

Sandy Nelson lives in Twizel, where she is a busy primary school teacher and mother. With a fascination for the stories of her own family's wartime experiences, she has researched the Battle of Savo Strait and interviewed survivors to bring authenticity to her writing.

ISBN 978 1 86950 867 8 RRP $19.99
Lorraine Orman

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