Amazing Grace

Stephanie Owen Reeder

Published by National Library of Australia.

Market Primary school age.

ISBN 9780642277435

Reviewed by Vicki Griffin. BA-UNE.

What an interesting account of  Grace Bussel a 16 year old girl in 1876 who saved people who were drowning when the steamship Georgette was beached in Western Australia. Her story has been re-told countless times but not like this.  ‘Amazing Grace’ has managed to transport the reader back to the atmosphere of the 1800’s with references to cooking clothing and the general way of life. I actually felt like I was sitting in their bedroom as they discussed ship wrecks and how fast Christmas was approaching. The description of the steamship along with maps and newspaper clippings only adds to the realism and anticipation of this book. The photographs are actually amazing along with a very well written story.

As the ship gets a leak on it that progressively gets worse I felt like I was there with them,’ Bill Dundee the first mate of the SS Georgette was soon standing waist deep in cold, oily water. “What’s blocking this blasted thing” he growled. This part of the story sent shivers down my spine reminiscent of the Titanic the difference though is how brave Grace was. Children and babies on board the sinking ship makes one cry as one ponders the emotive text and the awful predicament the passengers found themselves in.

As Grace stirred the plum pudding in the kitchen Sam races in to tell about the ship out at sea and how they need help, Grace’s mother urges her to go with Sam ( a black servant) and help the best she can can. Grace jumps on her horse and rides to Calgardup Bay She raised her arm in a salute at the people waving on the boat and urged her horse through the water Even whilst the waves threatened to pull Grace and her horse under she continued on, woman and children hung on tight to the saddle as Grace took them to safety.

The informative information throughout this book is amazing as this story comes to life; Amazing Grace even has the recipe for the Christmas pudding they were making in it! This is a must read for any Australian and goes to show the camaraderie and mateship even way back then through a brave 16 year old girl from western Australia. There were many heroes but none like Grace, Lake Grace in WA was named in her honour. The Bussel  highway in Western Australia is named after Grace and also Bussell Crescent in Canberra. The author Stephanie had one of her books shortlisted for Book of the Year awards 2010, she is definitely articulate and can write a suspenseful narration of a true event. I love all the interesting facts throughout Amazing Grace and in particular I love the photo of Australia’s Grace Darling in the epilogue.

This book is wonderfully educational and should be in all schools, it is part of Australia’s history. A definite buy for anyone who loves Australian history and bravery!

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