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Meet Grace : Our Australian Girl Series : Book 1 - Sofie Laguna

Meet Grace

Our Australian Girl Series : Book 1

By: Sofie Laguna, Lucia Masciullo (Illustrator)

Paperback Published: 31st January 2011
ISBN: 9780143305286
Number Of Pages: 144
For Ages: 8 - 12 years old

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It's 1808 and Grace is living with her uncle in London. They have no money, and Grace is always lonely and often hungry. The best part of her day is going to Fleet Street to talk to the horses that she loves so much. One afternoon Grace can't resist taking a shiny red apple from a grocer's cart - and then another... Before she knows it, Grace is being chased through the streets! Will she be caught and sent to prison - or worse?

Meet Grace and join her adventure in the first of four exciting stories about a convict girl who is given a second chance.

About The Author

Sofie Laguna was born in 1968 in Sydney. She studied to be a lawyer, but after deciding law was not for her, she trained as an actor. Sofie is now an author, actor and playwright.

Her books have been named Honour Books and Notable Books in the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards and have been shortlisted in the Queensland Premier's Awards. She has been published in the US and the UK and in translation in Europe and Asia. Her picture book with Andrew McLean, On Our Way to the Beach was included in the White Ravens 2005 annual selection of outstanding international children's books by the International Youth Library (Associated Project of UNESCO). Her other books include My Yellow Blanky, Too Loud Lily, Surviving Aunt Marsha, Bad Buster and Big Ned's Bushwalk.

Lucia Masciullo grew up in Livorno, Tuscany, among smells of saltiness and rosemary. She always loved painting and after graduating in Biology she decided to pursue her dream career as an artist. In 2006 she moved to Brisbane and since then has been happily working as a fine art painter and freelance illustrator. She has recently illustrated Sonya Hartnett's The Boy and Toy

Ma Honeywell, their mother, stopped when she saw Grace and gave her cheek a playful pinch. She had eleven children, most of them girls, though she could never find half of them.

'Hello, luv,' she said, smiling. 'How was business today?'

Ma Honeywell always asked the same question, only today Grace could give her a different answer. 'Good,' she said, smiling back. 'Very good! My uncle will be happy!'

'That'd be a sight for sore eyes. You better get home, luv, and give him what you got!' Ma Honeywell patted Grace's arm, then turned and walked on. She was on her way to the alehouse, where she would drink so much gin that later she wouldn't remember who Grace was at all.

Grace continued up the steps, imagining what it would be like when Uncle Ord saw the hammer. 'Well done, Grace,' he would say. She could almost feel the heat from the fire and taste the toasted cinnamon bun.

'Uncle Ord!' she called, as she pushed in the door of their lodgings.

Her uncle was sitting in his chair in front of the empty hearth with his sore leg up on the table.

Uncle Ord used to be a sailor until his leg was caught in a loop of rope that lifted him into the air and snapped his knee-bone. 'I was hanging upside down like a side of ham in a butcher's shop!' he told Johnny Dugs, the rag shop man. Uncle Ord and Johnny Dugs laughed as if it were a joke, but Grace knew that it was not. Uncle Ord couldn't be a sailor after that. He wasn't good for anything, he said, but 'selling the rubbish from the bottom of that stinking river.'

Grace tipped out the contents of her kettle. Wet coal tumbled across the table beside Uncle Ord's leg. Without turning around to look at her, he growled, 'Is that all?'

Grace carefully placed the hammer on the table beside the coal. Uncle Ord picked it up and swung around to her, his eyes hard.

'Where'd you find this?' he snarled. 'You little thief!'

Grace jumped back. 'I never stole it. I stood on it,'she stammered.

She lifted her foot to show him the cut. But Uncle Ord didn't look, he smacked his hand down onto the table, making Grace jump.

'You bring the runners to this house and they put me in chains, I'll kill you!'

'I never stole it, Uncle!' Grace protested, but she could tell he wasn't listening. 'I never stole nothing! It was Joe Bean tried to steal from me. There won't be no runners coming for you.'

Uncle Ord stroked the sharp claws of the hammer with his tobacco-stained fingers.

'They hanged a boy smaller than you down at the Newgate gallows yesterday. He stole a pair of boots worth a lot less than this here hammer. He was so small they had to weigh him down with stones so he'd drop right when he stepped off the platform.'

Grace shuddered. She had never wanted to see a hanging, but most people didn't feel that way – they flocked to see an execution as if it were a circus show. Even her uncle's stories frightened her.

'Please, Uncle, I found the hammer in the river, I swear.' Grace could feel her eyes welling with tears. She wiped them away; if Uncle Ord saw her cry he would curse her and say she was a useless girl.

'A thief and a liar,' he said. 'Get out of my sight and give me some peace.'

Grace went back out the front door and sat on the step.

Uncle Ord isn't proud of me for finding the hammer, she thought. He's angry at me for bringing something so valuable home.

For the first time, Grace realised that it didn't matter what she brought her uncle – she could carry half a barge into the house – it wouldn't make him happy. Nothing Grace found in the river could bring back his son, or fix his sore leg and make him a sailor again.

Grace picked at the mud drying on her knees and ankles. She should have let Joe Bean take the hammer – what difference did it make? When it was time for her to get back in the mud tomorrow she knew she would have to face Joe Bean and he would be very angry. She wouldn't have the hammer and she wouldn't have any money for him either. And the other boys from the gang were sure to be with him this time.

Grace sighed. She tore off a strip from the hem of her dress and, using it as a  rag, she cleaned the dirt from her wound. She tied the rag tightly around her foot to make a bandage.

'There now,' she said. 'Let's go to Fleet Street and see the horses.' Just thinking about horses helped Grace forget her troubles.

ISBN: 9780143305286
ISBN-10: 014330528X
Series: Our Australian Girl
Audience: Children
For Ages: 8 - 12 years old
For Grades: 2 - 6
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 144
Published: 31st January 2011
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 13.0  x 1.6
Weight (kg): 0.14
Edition Number: 1

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