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Book Review: Carly Mills Pioneer Girl, A New World

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl, A New World is written by Jane Smith, illustrated by Pat Kan and published by Big Sky Publishing. This adventure story brings history to life with a modern-day element of magic.

Carly is staying with family friends in Sydney before she goes to boarding school. Dora was showing her around some historical sites when they decided to explore Customs House. Carly noticed a removal man had dropped some pieces of fabric and when tried to give them back, he said they could keep the shawls. Dora put hers into her backpack, but when Carly put her shawl on she suddenly found herself wearing different clothing and in a very different time.

A lady named Caroline Chisholm mistakenly thought Carly had just arrived from England and took Carly under her wing and the pair worked together to ready a rundown house to receive other female immigrants arriving by sea.

When Carly removed her shawl, she was back with Dora in Sydney in the present. They came across a wall plaque remembering Caroline Chisholm and her work as “the Immigrant’s Friend”. Carly explained to Dora that she had met Mrs Chisholm and told her to put on the shawl. They both found themselves in 1841. Carly and Dora assisted Mrs Chisholm to work on her next plan to help Immigrant girls.

I found this chapter book engaging and educational. There are many people in history that made a difference in society that I would like to meet. To be able to put on an item of clothing and be there would be amazing. This story captured the everyday scene and made me feel as if I am walking Sydney in 1841 with the descriptions of the streets and the clothing people wore.

Blue Bear and I found Pat Kan’s illustrations delightful and amusing. The illustration of Carly when she realises, she is not wearing

shorts and t-shirt anymore and in fact wearing a dress and bonnet, captures her bewilderment perfectly.

I also liked the addition of the plaque that depicts the actual plaque remembering Caroline Chisholm and her work. It is located on the site of the Female Immigrants Home on Bent Street opposite the corner to Phillip Street in Sydney.

This adventure story will capture the imagination of any young reader who likes adventure and learning in a fun way.

Educational Activities

Creative writing

Write a story about time travel, include the answers to these questions in your story.

Where would you like to go back in time to explore?

Who would you like to meet?


Design your own time travel object, how does it work?

History research

What was Caroline Chisholm known for?

Which Australian bank note was she on and for how long?

Teacher led activity

Plan an excursion to Sydney to retrace the steps of Caroline Chisholm from the key to where the Female Immigrants Home used to be. This walk can be combined with a visit to Hyde Park Barracks or a walk to Mrs Macquarie Chair, or even The Rocks. The focus will be on periods of historical significance during the 1840s in Sydney.

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