Title: Jamberoo Road
Author: Eleanor Spence
Major Themes: Australia, Orphans
Synopsis: Five years after arriving in Australia, the family from The Switherby Pilgrims begin to scatter—and some find themselves in great danger.
We thoroughly enjoyed this sequel to The Switherby Pilgrims. Jamberoo Road continues the story of the 10 orphans given a new home in the Australian bush. Eleanor Spence has written a wonderful story of family, love, and the pioneer life.
Jamberoo Road begins about five years after the end of The Switherby Pilgrims. The children are all growing older and ready to spread their wings; the farm is looking much more settled. There still are no near neighbors, however, so it is a shock to everyone when a strange white man rides up one day on his expensive horse. Even more surprising is his request, for a governess for his frail sister at their home several hour’s ride away. When Luke takes off riding the horse without permission, however, what will Edward think of the family?
The family soon begins scattering; Selina begins an apprenticeship in Sydney, while Cassie and Luke go to work at Falls Farm, and Eben, the convict hired by Missabella when they first arrived, begins managing another farm. There are rumors that Billy Major, an Aborigine, is back in the area, but no one is worried about him. However, when Luke and the convict boy he works with at Falls Farm run away into the bush and end up with Billy Major and his band, a series of events is triggered which will affect everyone in the family.
As with the first book, this one starts out rather slow-paced, just telling about events in the family. Then, about halfway through the book, something very exciting happens, and it’s hard to stop reading until the climax is reached in the second-to-last chapter—and then the action slows down again! We greatly enjoyed the book, though; it was definitely a favorite, and I predict it will be reread a number of times.
WARNING: Chapter 1, page 13: “what the devil”; chapter 10, page 140, “who the devil”; chapter 10, page 147, “by God.” Chapter 10 also contains some violence, with a kidnapping and some fighting.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15