With this month’s tenth anniversary of the Black Saturday fires, it might be the right time to share one of these intensely moving stories with your children. They speak of survival, of the beautiful yet sometimes harsh reality of the Australian bush, and ultimately, of hope and regrowth. Often based on first hand experiences – author of the powerful The House on the Mountain Ella Holcombe lost her parents, dog and childhood home in the tragedy and Justin D’Ath was also caught in the fires on that tragic day – these stories will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading them.
47 Degrees by Justin D’Ath
Zeelie wonders if they’re in danger.
When temperatures soar to 47 degrees one hot summer day, 12-year-old Zeelie hopes the nearby bushfires everyone’s talking about aren’t heading towards her family’s new home. What will they do if the wind changes direction? What about their belongings and their beloved pets? And why hasn’t her mum and brother returned from Melbourne?
Nothing can prepare Zeelie for what’s to come. 10+ readers
Bushfire: Surviving Black Saturday by Sally Murphy
Amy is staying in Marysville with her grandmother, helping her in the garden and to clean out her gutters. It is, after all, bushfire season. As summer arrives, so do the fires, and Dad is busy helping control the flames in bushfires that have started burning in Victoria. But it is early February 2009, and the Black Saturday bushfire is about to encircle Amy and her family and teach Amy first-hand about tragedy and survival. 10+ readers
The House on the Mountain by Ella Holcombe, illustrated by David Cox
The powerful story of a family who lose their home in a bushfire and their journey of recovery.
Remembering Black Saturday
There is a fire coming, and we need to move quickly. Mum and Dad start packing bags, grabbing woollen blankets, the first-aid kit, torches, and then the photo albums. Dad puts Ruby on her lead and ties her up near the back door. My chest feels hollow, like a birdcage.
Atmospheric and intensely moving, this is the story of a family experiencing a bushfire, its devastating aftermath, and the long process of healing and rebuilding. 7+ readers
Through the Smoke by Phil Cummings, illustrated by Andrew McLean
The fire awoke like a dragon. Its flames licked the sky, and smoke veiled the sun. With a hungry crackle and an angry hiss, the cruel beast circled, trapping them.Until, through the smoke, knights appeared.
Through the Smoke tells the story of three kids, their imagination and a frightening fire in the Australian bush. 4+ readers