Will the Wonderkid by Stephanie Owen Reeder

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Age range 6+

It’s December 1914, and young Will Hutchison heads off into the South Australian desert in search of gold with his father, two other explorers and six camels. Their expedition doesn’t go according to plan, and finding water becomes their prime concern. In a desperate bid to survive, the men ride off on their camels to look for water, leaving Will alone at their campsite. But teenager Will is not content with babysitting pack camels, and so he leaves the safety of the campsite to search for water. Resourceful and resilient, Will not only survives against the odds but also makes a truly remarkable discovery in this true story from Australia’s past.

At the end of each chapter, a double-page spread provides information on topics relating to the chapter, such as Riding the Ghan (the great northern railway; travelling on the Ghan); Indispensable Afghans (who they were; what they did); Hard-Working Camels (exploring the outback; pioneering); Surviving in the Desert (plants; animals); Precious Opals (origins; opal mining); and Curious Coober Pedy (travelling to the opal field; living below the ground).

The story and the information spreads have black-and-white and colour illustrations, including photographs of Will at the time. Also provided at the end of the book is a glossary, background reading and an index.