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Empowering Historical Fiction For Girls: Read an Extract from Just a Girl by Jackie French

August 29, 2018

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Just a Girl by Jackie French is the story of Maryiam of Nazareth, the woman we know as Mary, the mother of Jesus. However Just a Girl is not a religious story, rather an historical account of the time.

From the age of 12, Australian author, Jackie French wondered about the Christmas story – where did it come from and who told it? With this in mind and based on primary sources, she has meticulously created small village life in Judea in 72AD as the starting point in this work of historical fiction.

As the story opens, a young girl called Judith is watching Roman chariots pass by in a cloudof dust, and everyone in her village is relived that they haven’t stopped. Yet Sawtha Rabba, one of the elders of the village and her great grandmother believes that they shouldn’t let their guard down.

And so, begins the story of Rabba, Judith, and her sister Baratha’s escape from the Roman army destroying their village and their subsequent fight for survival. Despite finding refuge in a cave where preserved food is in abundance, Judith and her sister must hone their skills and take on many jobs that were highly unusual for women back then.

While Judith survives some eye-opening experiences, hunting, defending them against wild animals and soldiers, Rabba tells the girls stories of her life in an attempt to prepare the girls for the time when they will be on their own in the world.

Read our full review | Purchase a copy of Just a Girl

Jackie French AM is an award-winning writer, wombat negotiator, the 2014–2015 Australian Children’s Laureate and the 2015 Senior Australian of the Year. In 2016 Jackie became a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to children’s literature and her advocacy for youth literacy. She is regarded as one of Australia’s most popular children’s authors and writes across all genres — from picture books, history, fantasy, ecology and sci-fi to her much loved historical fiction for a variety of age groups. ‘Share a Story’ was the primary philosophy behind Jackie’s two-year term as Laureate.


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