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Remembering a Forgotten Part of NZ History


SS Penguin SOS by Adrienne Frater, $25


This new title from OneTree House brings alive the devastating NZ maritime disaster, the sinking of the SS Penguin. In 1909, seventy-two crew and passengers perished when the steamship, Penguin sank off the rugged south-western coast of the North Island of New Zealand, during a severe storm. Ada Hannam was the sole woman survivor and despite losing her husband and four children she showed great bravery and is reported to have saved the life of the only child survivor. SS Penguin SOS tells Ada's story through the eyes of Jack, Ada’s eleven-year-old nephew. Jack has come to stay in Ada's boarding house after the death of his father in the influenza epidemic. Ada was pregnant at the time of the shipwreck and Wally, her son, is now thirteen. She has made a new life since the tragedy and although she no longer speaks of the dramatic event, Jack senses she is withholding a secret. This is a beautifully written account told through the eyes of Jack who has decided to research the sinking as part of a school project. The finished book will include elements Jack may have discovered such as newspaper articles photographs, diary entries, etc. Jack’s story is set in the 1920’s Taranaki and will contain historical details about life and school at that time in our history. Sadly, author Adrienne Frater died early this year, after a battle with cancer. She has previously published novels and stories in the NZ School Journal as well as a collection of short stories. She is a descendant of Ada Hannam and the character of Jack is based on her father. Paperback. ISBN: 978-0-995117600 Recommended ages 8+

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