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Playing Beatie Bow : Popular Penguins - Ruth Park

Playing Beatie Bow : Popular Penguins

By: Ruth Park


Published: 28th June 2010
For Ages: 6 - 12 years old
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Published: 28th June 2010
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The game is called Beatie Bow and the children play it for the thrill of scaring themselves. But when Abigail is drawn in, the game is quickly transformed into an extraordinary, sometimes horrifying, adventure as she finds herself transported to a place that is foreign yet strangely familiar . . .

About the Author

Born in New Zealand, Ruth Park came to Australia in 1942 to continue her career as a journalist. She married the writer D'Arcy Niland and travelled with him through the north-west of New South Wales before settling in Sydney where she became a full-time writer.

She has written over fifty books, and her many awards include the prestigious Miles Franklin Award for Swords and Crowns and Rings; the Australian Children's Book of the Year Award and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (USA) for Playing Beatie Bow and The Age Book of the Year Award for A Fence Around the Cuckoo.

She was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1987 and in 1994 was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letter from the University of New South Wales. Ruth Park lives in Sydney.

Chapter 1

In the first place, Abigail Kirk was not Abigail at all. She had been christened Lynette.

Her mother apologised. 'It must have been the anaes­thetic. I felt as tight as a tick for days. And Daddy was so thrilled to have a daughter that he wouldn't have minded if I'd called you Ophelia.'

So for the first ten years of her life she was Lynnie Kirk, and happy as a lark. A hot-headed rag of a child, she vibrated with devotion for many things and people, including her parents. She loved her mother, but her father was a king.

So when he said good-bye to her, before he went off with another lady, she was outraged to the point of speech­lessness that he could like someone so much better than herself that he didn't want to live in the same house with her any more.

'I'll come and see you often, Lynnie, I promise I shall,' he had said. And she, who could not bear to see a puppy slapped or a cockroach trodden on, hit him hard on the nose. She had never forgotten his shocked eyes above the blood-stained handkerchief. Very blue eyes they were, for he was half Norwegian.

Later she commanded her mother: 'Don·t ever call me Lynnie again. Or any of those other names either.' Kathy Kirk knew that her daughter was referring to the many pet names her father called her, for she was very dear to him.

Because she was a loving woman, she had put her arms round the little girl and said, 'You don't understand, be­cause you're too young yet. Just because Daddy wants to go away from me doesn't mean that he doesn't love you. But of course you may change your name if you wish. What would you like to be called?'

Weeks and months went past, and the person who had once been Lynette Kirk had no name at all. She would not answer to Lynette at home or at school. There were some puzzled notes from her teachers, which fortunately never had to be answered; because soon after the marriage break-up Kathy Kirk sold the family home and moved into a unit her husband had given her.

Her daughter was enraged that Kathy had accepted it. It was the finest in a high-rise tower her father's firm had designed, a glistening spike of steel and glass jammed in the sandstone amongst the tiny meek cottages and old bond stores of that part of Sydney called The Rocks.

'You ought to be prouder!' she yelled in her passion and grief. 'I'd rather live in the Ladies on the Quay than in something he gave me.'

'Be quiet!' said Grandmother in her razor-blade voice.

'You!' shouted that long-ago child. 'You're glad he's gone. I know.'

Because she was right, this was what began Abigail's and her grandmother's silent agreement not to like each other.

Yet, strangely, it was through Grandmother that the ex-Lynette at last found her name.

'You'll have to do something about that hysterical little bore, Katherine,' she said. Grandmother had this spooky habit of turning her eyes up and apparently speaking to a careful careless wave that curled down over her forehead. Lynnie always thought of it as Grandmother talking to her perm. Now she was doing it again. 'Just look at her, dear. She looks like a little witch with those wild eyes and her hair all in a bush.'

'You leave Lynnie alone, Mother! I've had enough of your sniping!' said Kathy in a voice in which Grandmother heard the fury and Lynette heard the shakiness.

'Well!' said Grandmother protestingly to her perm, for her daughter Kathy was a sunny-natured young woman and almost never lost her temper.

'Don't mind, darling,' said Kathy to ex-Lynette.

But the ex-Lynette was taken by the idea of being a witch. 'Tell me some witches' names, Mum,' she said. 'Well, there's Samantha, and Tabitha,' Kathy began. 'Oh, I don't want soppy TV names,' said her daughter. 'Some real witches' names.'

'They'd have to be old ones,' said Kathy thoughtfully, 'like Hephzibah, or Susannah, or Petronella, or Abigail.' 'That's the one!' cried the girl. 'But it's so plain, so knobbly, so...so awful!' wailed Kathy.

Grandmother smiled. Abigail could see quite easily that Grandmother thought she was plain and knobbly and awful, too. So that settled it.

'From now on I'm Abigail Kirk,' she said, 'and as soon as I'm old enough I'll change the Kirk, too.'

ISBN: 9780143204879
ISBN-10: 0143204874
Series: Popular Penguins
Audience: General
For Ages: 6 - 12 years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 205
Published: 28th June 2010
Dimensions (cm): 18.1 x 11.3  x 1.3
Weight (kg): 18.1