Updated May 30, 2003
In the forth-coming months a number of Kelly books are set to be released or re-released. We will be doing reviews and keeping you updated as to when the books hit the stands. For a extensive list of reviews, we recommend ironoutlaw.
The Daring of Ned Kelly
Geared towards upper primary/lower
secondary aged kids/young adult, Black Snake is a blend of fact
and fiction that puts people in Ned's shoes and explores his ongoing legend.
"He (Ned) was a criminal but he fought against injustice and never gave up. The fact that he failed and is still considered to be a hero is a uniquely Australian sentiment."
The Kelly story has not been addressed very much in the past within this genre, which is surprising considering the wide interest in Ned Kelly by Australian children. Previous factual works had their limitations and are now well and truly out of print anyway, (e.g. Frank Clune's 1970 Ned Kelly book and Ken Little and Dee Huxley's book published in 1978). Black Snake is more thorough than previous books, and is appealing in its easy to read but factual style, without presenting too much information for kids to absorb. It is sympathetic to Ned, yet tries to balance the story, mostly by not omitting Ned's negative actions. It does not make villains of the police either, instead objectively reports their sometimes incompetent actions.
was introduced by a "What if you were there" section,
which is a great innovation. Written from the point of view of a various
eyewitnesses, these short scripts are an interesting and personal introduction
to the events covered within the chapter. Although works of fiction, these
compelling letters, based on fact, are very plausible.
A terrific time line is included at the back of the book. Only one small bugbear - unfortunately this author has fallen into the same trap as many others in the past by claiming an actual month and year date for Ned's birth, without any conclusive proof. Without his baptismal record showing his birth date and place of birth, no one can say for certain when or where Ned was definitely born. Many authors do forget this detail however and seemingly feel more comfortable declaring a specific date. Over time a number of various dates have been presented, which becomes confusing to Kelly students, particularly when his birth date is not known with any sort of factual certainty. (I believe it would be more appropriate to tell the reader 'We do not know the actual date, however some historians believe it was xyz.')
highly recommend Black Snake.
first published 12th of October 2002