A boy stood in the playground under the big fig tree. 'He can't speak English,' the children whispered… Sydney, 1942. The war is coming to Australia - not only with the threat of bombardment, but also the arrival of refugees from Europe. Dreamy Columba's world is growing larger.
She is drawn to Ellery, the little boy from far away, and, together with her highly practical best friend Hilda, the three children embark on an adventure through the harbour-side streets - a journey of discovery and terror, in pursuit of the mysterious blue cat...
Columba and her friend Hilda live in Sydney. It is 1942, the world is at war, and it is starting to impact their everyday lives. There are now black out curtains at the windows, the constant threat of bombs from the Japanese, and also the arrival of refugees from Europe who are fleeing the war.
When Ellery arrives at school and cannot speak any English but still seems content, Columba is fascinated by him. The three children form an unlikely friendship and set out in search of the mysterious blue cat who has disappeared from the neighbourhood.
As is usual with Ursula Dubosarsky novels, this will leave your students wondering and enquiring about life in Australia during the war. It is a wonderful lead in to the topic of World War II and the impact that it had on ordinary people. This is perfectly suited to your Year 5 and 6 students both boys and girls.
Reviewed by Michelle