Bush Garden

story by Taylah Needham , illustrated by Amy Golbach

Composes a story as a digital narrative, incorporating historical details from Australia’s early convict settler history.  

Read the first page of the story. Discuss evidence in the text that allows readers to identify what time period the story is set in. Draw students' attention to vocabulary such as, ‘convict,’ ‘master,’ and facts such as the master’s daughter eating plain bread and that James is worried his master might beat him black and blue if he argued with the master’s daughter. Ensure students correctly identify that the story is set in the past, around the time of the early convict settlement in Australia.  

Tell students that this story is an example of historical fiction. Inform students that historical fiction is a genre of writing that incorporates historical facts into a narrative. Tell students that often authors writing historical fiction will conduct in-depth research to ensure the accuracy of historical details.  

Read the story Bush Garden. Use a table to record insights students can obtain from the story about the time period, focusing on the characters of James and Jiemba.  

Treatment of James:

  • Working in a physical job under the hot sun 
  • Unable to challenge his master and their family for fear of being beaten  
  • Having a rock thrown at him by other children  
  • Coins stolen from him by the other children 
  • Fearful he would get into serious trouble for losing the money  

Treatment of Jiemba:

  • Forbidden from visiting certain areas in the town 
  • Being threatened by children with rocks and sticks  

Discuss how these examples support students own understanding of how both convicts and Indigenous Australians were treated in the past.  

Draw students’ attention to the fact that James and Jiemba bond and become friends. Using these same historical details, tell students to construct a story, outlining an interaction between a convict, an Indigenous Australian and a settler. Discuss ideas about the type of interaction the trio might have based on the information gathered from the text. Ensure students conclude it is most likely the settler will treat the convict and the Indigenous Australian unfairly in some way. Sample answers have been provided below:  

  • The settler might accuse the convict of stealing something and the indigenous Australian might jump in to help.  
  • The settler may be unkind to the Indigenous Australian and the convict might protect them.  

Inform students that there is no need for them to write their story down. Rather, the goal here is to role-play the interaction. Once students have had time to rehearse their interaction, instruct them to video it using video recording software. Students can edit the video clips, using iMovie for IOS or Adobe Rush for Android.