Subtitle: My Australian Story
By: Evan McHugh
Genre: YFT - Historical fiction (Children's/Teenage)
Published by: Scholastic
Published: 01 Aug 2016
ISBN: 9781743627990


Nipper only wants to be one thing: a lifesaver. In his world they're larger than life, walking, talking heroes. He's too young, but he starts to train in secret, challenging himself in the Bondi surf. But his secret comes to light one hot Sunday in 1938 - a day that was to become infamous.


This is a great middle years reader with historical significance, like all books in the My Australian Story series. This one traces a year in the life of David McCutcheon, aka ‘Nipper’, in diary form from June 1937 - June 1938.

Nipper’s dream is to become a Bondi surf lifesaver, like his Grampa. He doesn’t do so well at school, but this slowly changes throughout the story, especially with the writing of his diary.

Set in a time when WWII was approaching, its main story however occurs on one hot Sunday in February 1938, later to become known as Black Sunday. With Bondi beach crowded, three freak waves struck and many, believed to be about three hundred people, were dragged out to sea and in need of rescuing. Luckily the surf club was having a training session at the end of the beach and about 80 lifesavers rescued all but five people.

Nipper was also on the beach and no one was looking at a poor woman who was drowning. He decided he must act and with no regard for his own safety, eventually gets her back to shore, only to find out she is his most disliked teacher, Mrs Kearsley. In the months that follow their lives change because of this incident.

But will Nipper stay at school now that he is thirteen? He can’t become a proper lifesaver until he turns sixteen, so he has a lot to consider.

Easy to read with much cultural (Australian Life Saving Clubs) as well as historical pointers, this is an ideal classroom reader for Years 4 - 8.

Reviewed by Rob