Our Australian Girl: A Friend for Grace by Sofia Laguna (Published by Puffin Books Australia, May 2, 2011)
The year is 1808 and ten-year-old Grace is leaving London to sail to Australia as a convict after she was caught stealing. Grace doesn't miss much about London, where she was cold and hungry and neglected by her uncle, who was her only surviving relative, although she does miss the horses she used to visit. Leaving London gives Grace a chance at a new life, but she is also frightened about the long sea voyage and the unknown land that awaits her at the end of the journey.
Soon after boarding the ship, Grace becomes friends with a girl her age named Hannah. Hannah and her mother are also being sent to Australia as convicts. The two girls become friends and as the long voyage goes by, they become as close as sisters. Grace is grateful for her friendship with Hannah, as it makes the voyage bearable, but she also fears they will be separated when the ship arrives in Sydney Cove.
A Friend for Grace is the second in a series of four books about Grace, following Meet Grace. This series is part of a larger series called Our Australian Girl, which is a bit like the American Girls series, but set in Australia. Out of the four girls in the series, Grace is my favorite. I love the time period of the early 19th century and Grace is a very sympathetic character who had such a hard life just because she was poor. I am looking forward to reading the final two books, to be published later this year, which will follow Grace as she starts a new life in Australia.