Book Review – NSW Writer’s Centre. (Posted: May 30)
‘Gunnedah Hero’ book review by Michael Hanrahan – May 2012.
This book review came about as a result of me offering my book to the Emerging Writers’ Festival’s book review initiative. Michael Hanrahan is the Managing Editor of ‘Rough Draft’, a new publishing house in Melbourne. Sounds like a top bloke! The review can be seen on the NSW Writers’ Centre website:
“Gunnedah Hero by Clancy Tucker: Emerging Writers’ Festival joins us for 366 Days of Writing.
Gunnedah Hero is a highly entertaining young adult novel set predominantly in the Australian outback. Fourteen-year-old ‘Gunnie’ Danson’s late grandfather left him a box containing a manuscript written by Gunnie’s great-great-grandfather Smokey Danson, following his cross-country journey as a fourteen-year-old drover in 1910. Smokey had to venture out alone in an effort to save his family’s cattle from starvation during a drought.
His adventures along the way include encounters with snakes and thieves, getting stuck in a disused dairy, and landing in the middle of a court case. He negotiates these dramas with the help of his trusty cattle dogs and the new friends he makes along the way. We also follow the story of Gunnie reading the manuscript with great enthusiasm in the present day.
Gunnie has a problem of his own to solve, and it turns out the solution is contained in the box his grandfather left him. From the opening pages this is an engaging book. Tucker has made his characters highly authentic and the story moves along quickly. Smokey is adventurous and keen to help his family, but he’s also daunted by the responsibility that has fallen to him because his father has been injured. In a sad scene Smokey is highly traumatised by the death of one of his three cattle dogs, Sam.
In the present day, Gunnie can see trouble brewing in his family but doesn’t know whether it’s his place to get involved. We jump seamlessly from Gunnie reading the manuscript in the present day back into the story of Smokey in 1910, as links between the two gradually unfold.
Tucker paints a thoroughly Australian story. The dogs, cattle and horses are central, as are the countryside and the family cattle station, Wiralee. Done poorly this ends up with everybody eating meat pies while they drive around in Holdens with their Akubras on, but Tucker doesn’t fall for this trap. The Aussie atmosphere is woven into the story. Gunnedah Hero will also provide an education about the times for its intended young adult market.
The only minor problem with the book is the occasionally poor layout which made reading awkward in places, but this is not uncommon in self-published books. The cover of Gunnedah Hero displays a couple of awards the book has won. They are well deserved.
Review by Michael Hanrahan”
TOP BOOK REVIEWS
*** BUZZ WORDS MAGAZINE *** Top book review http://buzzwordsmagazine.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/gunnedah-hero.html
It! I couldn’t put it down and it is full of wonderful characters; stories and
sub-stories that are so interesting it’s like reading the Arabian nights. One
story leads to another then another and it goes on, linking to something else
just as extraordinary. The peripheral happenings are as magnetic as the main
goings on. Fantastic! You’re on a winner. Good luck. It deserves to be
“Gunnedah Hero is a book that will be remembered long after its reading. This is a perfectly crafted, exceptionally well-written book which has been self-published. It comes highly recommended by the reviewer.”
Anastasia Gonis – Book Reviewer for ‘Buzz Words’ – January 2012.
much to learn and appreciate in this novel. There are references to bush lore,
bush tucker and medicines, the wild life, the value of the Bulletin, the postal
services, the country courts, all windows into life one hundred years ago.
Though most names and some places are fictional, quite a few places are not and
can be found via the Internet, including Gunnedah which still has its memorial
to the murdered miners. There is a glossary of terms, a family tree in this
absorbing family history, and a website for reader interaction. This is a
valuable read for ages 10 and over, in fact for all ages. JDA”
Book review in CBCA magazine, ‘Reading Time’, February 2012 Vol 56, No 1. John
Adams – Book reviewer – CBCA -
‘Clancy, what a great book. So typically Australian, a great bush story, of mateship, overcoming hardship, courage, love, and triumph. Never a dull moment, and makes you want to read on with every chapter. Full of compassion, and warm hearted moments, the reader is not infrequently in tears filled with real emotion.’
Doctor Judith O’Malley-Ford, MBBS (Qld), MPH, JP (Qual), FRACGP, Author of ‘The
Australian Medical Dictionary’.
“Wow! What a story. I loved it. It wasn’t a book I would normally pick up to read, but it was a book I couldn’t put down. Smokey was my fave, I found that I didn’t keep reading to see what was in the envelope, I kept reading because loved being on the journey with Smokey. I want the sequel now haha. Fntastic, really. I came to work with bleary eyes on numerous occasions because I stayed up late to read, unable to put it down. Thanks so much for giving me a copy.’
Tammy Lovett, Editor, Alexandra Standard, Yea Chronicle.
‘I loved the story. I found the plot believable and the characters authentic. The structure of parallel narrators works well, particularly because both boys are a similar age and have the same standards or principles. You have the very successful formula of the kids showing just how capable they are in the absence of adults, plus a few “baddies” to test or push them a little further.’
Geri Coughlan – Head Librarian, Trinity College, Melbourne.
‘Clancy Tucker is a great writer and has produced a magnificent yarn for everyone to enjoy. A delightful story that had me hooked right from the start. Clancy’s way of writing takes you right into the pages of the book, making you feel very much part of it … you will find that once you start reading, you will want to continue, without interruption, until you’ve reached the end. This is a heart warming, well written story that will transport you to another era and back again, bringing with it lessons you can use in your own life today. You won’t be disappointed … it would make a great film. I would strongly recommend this book, it will leave an impression.’
Deb Cullen – UK author – book reviewer
‘Read Gunnedah Hero while I was away. I really appreciated the realism and the mammoth amount of research that must’ve gone into it. I also liked the way the book alternates between current day and 1910. Using naming the foal as a common thread throughout the current-day story was a master stroke. As Gunnie would say, love ya work. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. Wishing you every success with it.’
Vicki Tyley – author.
‘I’ve finished your book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and found the story very believable. Have done a lot of bush camping over the years so could relate to the life. As to what was in the envelope? Well – proof that the property could not be sold as long as a family member was living on the property – BRILLIANT! Congratulations – it is a really good read.’
Jean Laws – editor ‘Eyes and Ears’.
‘It’s a beautiful story, Clancy, filled with likeable, enduring characters. It deserves to be in print. I loved the finish and how you wrapped it up. It all came together beautifully – and that goes for both periods. You’re an excellent storyteller so there was never any need to slash and burn. I LOVE the back and forth of the Gunnie / Smokey timeframes. I reckon it works really well and adds a truly original element to the story. It also works for the suspense – especially now Gunnie has the dilemma of his aunt’s phone call. It’s good to keep readers on edge and there’s no shortage of action and drama in your writing.’
Julie Jay, ‘Rebus Press’ – Editor & author.
“When I read this Gunnedah Hero, I think of you. I have a feeling that I read something so personal, so precious to the heart, so sentimental … I haven’t finished reading your story yet, but I want to tell you that I love this story and it should be read by the Australian in schools, and the citizen of the world like me and other young adults. You are a very proud Aussie. I love this.”
Anchansiri Sriyananda – Bangkok, Thailand – former senior Thai diplomat.
‘This is a brilliant book in the ilk of ‘Diary of a Welsh Swagman’, a book my grandmother gave me as a girl, about a man walking the district I grew up in. This book showed, as does Smokey’s story, how tough life could be, and just how much could be achieved with very little.’
Jill Smith – Author ‘Dual Visions’ – book reviewer.
‘My local librarian complained to me that there are not enough books for boys. She said the libraries are always looking for a great adventure story that will appeal to the young male members. Well, she can’t go past this one. This is a wonderful coming of age story for boys … it is cleverly written and is a heart warming and enjoyable read that will appeal to more than the child and young adult audience it is targeting. I became totally lost in the bush settings and the lives of the two main protagonists and felt like I was there with them. It has been favourably acclaimed by many notable people. You and your children will love this book. What makes a great historical novel for kids? This man has the key to that genre.’
Elaine Ouston – Author, editor and publisher – Morris Publishing Australia.
I have received and read your book! I liked it and was touched. I will tell my publishers about it. The content is of course very Australian, but you never know.
Geri Brandjes, senior editor, The Netherlands, May 2012.
Thank you for your patience while I had your manuscript assessed. I really enjoyed the read, and was captivated by the characters you had created. It is a great story. I have no doubt you will have success in placing this book outside of Australia. It’s a great story, and it’s written well. I personally enjoyed it.
Tina Chou, Peony Literary Agency, Shanghai, China
Links to the Author’s Interviews, Reviews and Magazines where GUNNEDAH HERO has been featured and discussed:
Morris Publishing Australia – eBook publisher : http://www.morrispublishingaustralia.com/clancy-tucker—author.html
Writers Web : http://writersweb.com.au/authors/clancy-tucker/
The Write Life – interview : http://carolwarner.wordpress.com/tag/clancy-tucker/
Helen Ross Writes – interview : http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/interview-with-clancy-tucker
Authors Australia : http://www.authorsaustralia.org/our-members#clancy-tucker
New South Wales Writers’ Centre book review – Australia : http://clancytucker.com.au/book-reviews.php
Sheryl Gwyther – interview : http://sherylgwyther.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/blog-tour-australian-author-clancy-tucker/
Creative Kids Tales – review : http://www.creativekidstales.com.au/authors/emerging-authors/clancy-tucker/clancy-tucker.html
Kids Book Capers – interview : http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/kids-book-capers-blog/tag/clancy-tucker