Banjo Tully hasn’t ever given much thought to climate change. But when he meets self-described ‘conservation nut’ Mai Le — after the worst drought in living memory puts his future in jeopardy — Banjo sets out on an 800-kilometre solo horse ride. It’s a journey that might not only save his family’s farm, but could also change the planet.
Banjo rides his horse Milly the 21 kilometre journey to school for ‘ride to school’ day. He knows that the kids are supposed to ride bikes, but it is simply too far and anyway, why shouldn't he be able to claim a free movie ticket like everyone else?
When he is sent home from school, Banjo calls his parents - only to discover they are planning on selling his horse Milly due to the extreme drought. Banjo is not happy with this, so he decides to ride her to his Gran’s house instead. When Gran tells him that she is too old and can’t look after Milly, Banjo doesn't know what to do.
His dilemma is solved when he runs into a girl from school, Mai Le, and he stays with her family. Here Banjo learns of a climate emergency summit taking place in Canberra in 12 days time. With much assistance and encouragement from Mai Le, he decides to make the 800km ride there to make a statement.
During his journey, his legend grows. So to does his Go Fund Me page that Mai Le has organised.
Banjo never set out to be a hero, and has doubts about completing the journey along the way. But can his actions make a difference?
With great characters and a strong topical, Australian storyline, and containing themes of climate change, making a difference, resilience, and community spirit, this is an ideal classroom novel for students in Years 5 - 8.
Reviewed by Rob