Our Australian Girl: Meet Grace by Sofie Laguna (Published by Puffin Books Australia, January 31, 2011)
Ten-year-old Grace lives with her uncle in London in 1808. She never knew her father, and her mother died when she was very young. Her uncle cannot work because of an injury, and so there is no money and Grace is often hungry. Her uncle often drinks and is unkind to her, but she has nowhere else to go except the streets. Grace's only happiness comes from going to Fleet Street and seeing the horses. Grace loves horses, and often dreams of having a horse of her own.
One day, starving and desperate, Grace cannot help herself and turns to thievery. She is caught and taken to prison. Life in prison is actually better than with her uncle, because at least she gets a meal every day. But she is afraid she will be hanged, for thieves often are. However, to Grace's surprise, she is given a chance at a new life, and sentenced to be transported to the colony of Sydney Cove, a place so far away some call it "the end of the world."
Meet Grace is the first of four books about the life of Grace, a young convict girl sent to Australia in the early nineteenth century. Grace was a very sympathetic character who suffered so much just from being born poor, for the life of poor children in 19th century London was extremely difficult. It was a bit depressing just reading about how miserable her life was and I hope she is able to make a new start in Australia and have a better life there. I definitely plan to read the rest of the books about her to find out. The Our Australian Girl series seems to be like an Australian version of the American Girls series except for slightly older readers, as there are several different series of books, each about a young girl living during a different time in Australian history. This series will likely be popular among young girls in Australia who are interested in reading about their country's history.