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My NZ Story: Pandemic by Sally Stone

November 5, 2012

Pandemic: Spanish Flu 1918 by Sally Stone. Pub. Scholastic, 2012. 

The 18th My Story novel ironically about the events from August to December 1918 covering the end of World War 1 and the Spanish Flu that ravaged the World killing more than 50 million people. In NZ 8,600 people died with more than a quarter of them Maori.

The story is told in diary format by 11 year old red haired Freda, a spirited girl who doesn’t miss a trick. She grows up on a farm in Canterbury outside Christchurch, with her dour father, downtrodden mother, brother Bobby who goes to war, and a grandmother who is a harbinger of doom in a comical sense.

Sally Stone not only tells the story of these tense days but gives an excellent portrait of life in these times that will astound today’s kids. She touches on corporal punishment in the classroom, children should be seen and not heard, marbles, housework of the most arduous kind, churning butter, making soap and swagmen coming to the door for a feed.

All told using the idiom of the day. The flu was even written into skipping rhymes -:I had a little bird its name was Enza, I opened the window and in-flu-enza”. Just brilliant.

The returned soldiers, prohibition and all the measures taken because of the flu are starkly presented in chipper fashion by Freda.

Great for primary and intermediate age children and easily read because of the short diary entries. Excellent history with photographs and historytimeline in the back. History is more powerful when it is personnalised like the books in this series.

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