cover pic  

The Goat Who Sailed the World

The Goat That Sailed the World is the true story of the very stroppy animal who sailed with James Cook on the Endeavour, on the voyage that first mapped Australia's east coast and led to the British colony there 20 years later. She gave Cook milk for the whole three years the ship had been away! This was pretty incredible for a goat - they usually don't give milk for nearly as long. Her milk was badly needed, because food on ships in those days was pretty awful.
Actually the tiny ship also carried seventy-one crew, twelve marines, eleven scientists and their servants, seventeen sheep, a small mob of cattle for meat, four ducks and five chickens for eggs, a boar, a sow and her piglets for meat too, and three cats to catch the rats that swarmed on every ship.
Ships in those days were like floating arks, small farms of animals to provide meat, milk and eggs to add to the usually stale rations. Which was why ships needed to call in to harbour often- not just for fresh water, but to find good grass that could be cut and dried for hay to feed their livestock.
The Goat was famous even before she stepped onto the Endeavour. . She had already sailed around the world with Captain Wallis, providing milk for the captain and his officers. Now she was going to face an even bigger adventure - three years finding new lands, facing wild storms and shipwrecks, and plagues that would kill a third of the crew.
But she survived it all. And by the end of the voyage she was the most famous goat in history!
The British government gave her a pension. The British Royal Society made her a member - the only animal ever to join that respected club of scientists! They gave her a silver collar too. And Captain James Cook was so fond of her that he took her home with him.
The story of the Goat is really the story of that historic voyage, too, and their adventures, mapping the transit of Venus, hunting for the Great South land, exploring the New Zealand coastline and eastern Australia, facing ship wreck, attack, and disease…
It's also the story of Isaac Manley, the boy who looked after the goat, and his rise from master's servant to midshipman, the beginning of a career that would make him an admiral, and the last surviving member of cook's crew.

Praise for The Goat Who Sailed the World:
'Irresistibly exciting and true' - Family magazine
'What a wonderful way to learn about Cook…A quick good read for adult history lovers as well.' - The Courier Mail
'This small but eventful book brings history alive…It's an irreverent and informative charmer.' - The Sunday Age
'Ideal for younger readers.' - Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin
'What a delight to read this book! Jackie French has a style that seems effortless and totally believable.' - Austral Ed Newsletter
'This is a very good story…I will definitely read the next one when it comes out.' - Tim, aged 13, YARA website

  cover pic  

The Dog Who Loved a Queen

Based on the true story of the dog who was with Mary Queen of Scots when she died, The Dog Who Loved a Queen is a fascinating tale of religious bigotry, plots and passion, told  from the point of view of a small Scottish terrier, more than five hundred years ago.
Folly travels from his island home to be the pet of one of history's most famous and tragic queens, Mary Queen of Scots. To the world outside her prison Mary was either murderer who killed her husband and plotted to steal the English throne, or an innocent queen kept prisoner by her jealous cousin Queen Elizabeth the First. But to her dog Folly she was simply his mistress, the centre of his world.
As Mary schemes to regain both her Scottish throne and the crown of England, Folly's world is one of chasing rats behind the tapestries and choosing tidbits from the banquet table. But as Mary's plots become more desperate, even Folly's loyalty will be tested.
More about the book
I have always been fascinated by Mary Queen of Scots and the mysteries surrounding her. The books I read when I was a teenager portrayed her either as a heartless schemer, or else as an innocent betrayed by evil men.
As I grew older I began to read the accounts of Mary's life and death from the people who were actually there, like her physician Master Bourgoine. A new picture of Mary emerged- a spirited girl, an intelligent woman and a tolerant queen in a time when small differences in religious faith in other countries led to persecution and even torture and death.
But Mary was surrounded by ambitious men, at a time when women weren't supposed to rule. And she was beautiful- so beautiful, so favoured that she never learnt to cope with hatred and treachery- until, perhaps, it was too late.
The details of Mary's life in prison come mostly from those who were there at the time, like Mary's physician, Master Bourgoine, as well as Mary's own letters, both the ones smuggled out of her prison and captured by Queen Elizabeth the First's spies, and the ones to her relatives in France ordering luxuries, pet birds and dogs, and sometimes giving details of her life with her pets as well. My major problem was that - as with so many areas of history- a lot of myths have grown up about Mary that people now take as fact.
Many web sites will tell you that Mary's dog was a Skye terrier, for example- but the breed didn't exist in Mary's day.
Others will give you the dog's name- but that was made up by a novelist, years ago, and isn't fact either. I haven't been able to find any reference in any account of the time that gives the dog a name.
Many stories about Mary make her a romantic figure who mourned Bothwell all her life. But soon after she arrived in England she tried to marry the Duke of Norfolk, and wrote him many loving letters. The stories make her an innocent prisoner, too, but her own letters make it clear she believed she was rightfully Queen of England, and that it was her duty to do anything- including plot to kill Queen Elizabeth- to gain the throne.
Many people think that in Mary's day dogs prowled around the banqueting tables, too, while the diners threw them scraps and bones. But in Mary's day it was VERY bad manners to have a dog in the room while you ate- unless, perhaps, you were a queen.
The Dog Who Loved a Queen can be read as a historical fantasy, a world of queens and plots and dogs and danger to escape into. But it can also be used to introduce readers to the historical realities of those days, from what people wore and ate to the way they thought.
The Dog Who Loved a Queen also tackles issues of intolerance and religious terrorism. But it looks at them from a perspective of 500 years away- a safer, less contentious way for young readers to think about the issues without the prejudice of modern political beliefs clouding the issues.
Does the end justify the means? How far SHOULD you go for a cause you believe in?
Were Mary's followers what we now think of as terrorists when they plotted to kill Queen Elizabeth by putting poison on her saddle?
Do causes like Mary's change as time goes by? Few people these days believe that a Queen is ordained by God and that it's blasphemy not to obey them. Will any of our modern beliefs be abandoned in a hundred or five hundred years time?
Mary's servants, as well as her dog, were loyal all her life, staying with her through the long years of her imprisonment. Would you do that for a friend? Has the idea of loyalty changed in 500 years?
Mary Queen of Scots - Murderess or rightful Queen?
One fearless Scottish terrier didn't care. Mary was simply his mistress - the true story of Mary's most loyal companion
Based on the true story of the dog who was with Mary when she died, The Dog Who Loved a Queen is a fascinating tale of religious bigotry, plots and passion. Traditional history books can't compete with the vibrancy of French's historically based fiction, calling to mind the tastes, sights and sounds of a world long left behind. Who couldn't enjoy a dog's take on the life and times of Mary Queen of Scots?!

  cover pic  

Dingo: The Dog Who Conquered a Continent

 This is a story about survival in our earliest times. This is an insight into our land's history, meticulously based on archaeological and ethno botanical research.

All of Australia’s dingoes may be descended from one South-East Asian ‘rubbish dog’ who arrived over 5,000 years ago. This is a story about that first dingo.

It is also the story of Loa, who heads off across the sea in his canoe when the girl he loves marries another. He takes only his spears and one of the dogs from around the camp to eat if he gets hungry, or to throw to threatening sharks or crocodiles. 

But when a storm blows boy and dog out to sea, both must learn to survive in a strange new world as partners — and even as friends.

‘Beautifully and simply written…French has brought the history of early Australian culture to life. The kind of tale that will stay with young readers.’

Why did you decide to tell part of this story from the point of view of the dog? How did you approach this challenge?
 Some of my best friends are animals. To really be friends with an animal- not just an owner or a master- you need to understand them, too. You often see a dog with its head on one side, studying its human, but I think far fewer humans study dogs.
            Dingo is about that extraordinary moment, thousands of years ago, when a wild dog  and a human decided that they were friends, and began the partnership that would mean so much to both species. I suspect that event happened many times, in many places. But one of them may have been like the story of Dingo.

Can you tell me how the characters of Loa and The Dog developed? Were you inspired by any particular research material?
Dingo is from a time in prehistory, in other words, before recorded stories. But we have DNA and RNA evidence that all Australian dingoes may be descended from one pregnant female Asian 'rubbish dog.'. How did she get here?And what happened then? Even the area where that first dog landed is probably under water by now, and the plants and animals very different.
            Much of the background of Dingo comes from 'ethnobotany', the study of prehistoric plant  residues. Once you know what people ate you can begin to reconstruct their lives. We also have the remnants of tools, cave paintings and oral tradition. It was a varied but very rich source to work from, and fascinating, as I don't think anyone has tried to put together a portrait of that time before. It was a blank page to write on.
             A boy, very like Loa, must have existed once, as did a wild dog like the one in Dingo. They must have had enormous courage and determination but also a vision, able to see what a  different life could be, boy and dog working together.  Once I knew they existed both Loa and the dog seemed to write themselves. 

  cover pic  

The Camel Who Crossed Australia

The Burke and Wills Expedition should have been one of the greatest explorations ever… white men venturing where no other white man had gone before.
Sure, you have probably heard about the Burke and Wills expedition… but have you ever heard it from the perspective of one of the camels on the journey? Or from one of the ‘Afghan cameleers’ hired from the Indian subcontinent to look after the camels?
The humans called him ‘Bell Sing’, but to the other camels he is known as ‘He Who Spits Further Than the Wind’. And spitting is something Bell Sing is not ashamed to admit he is very good at. Transported from the mountains and deserts of the ‘Northwest Frontier’ (present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan), Bell Sing accompanies the explorers Burke and Wills as they try to cross Australia from south to north.
Bell Sing has never had a high opinion of humans – or horses. And this expedition is the worst managed caravan he’s ever been in. Cameleer Dost Mahomet and soldier John King are also beginning to wonder if their leader is incompetent or crazy.
Bell Sing can smell water over the sandhills on the horizon... and freedom too. Can the expedition succeed? And who – if anyone – will survive?
This is the gritty and true story about one of the most extraordinary and iconic events in Australia’s history.

PS And I had great fun with Bell Sing…

  cover pic  

The Horse who bit a Bushranger

A story of survival, second chances ... and a dance with danger. Young Billy Marks is a pickpocket, transported to the penal colony of New South Wales. He and his mate reckon they'll become bushrangers - but that's before Billy's had a chance to see the bush up close. And when he buys the big white brumby stallion, covered with scars but refusing to bend to any man's will, he knows he made the right choice. Billy's daughter Mattie Jane thinks her father can ride any horse who ever lived ... and so can she! But when tragedy strikes, the Marks clan, including Mattie and her beloved horse, Rebel Yell, will need all the courage they can find to keep the family together. The deeds and disputed stories of Jackie French's own ancestors inspire another novel - a novel of proud and gutsy horses, trailblazing farmers and their resilient wives, and desperate men forced to break the law to survive.

  cover pic  

The Donkey Who Carried the Wounded: The Famous Story of Simpson and His Donkey - A True Anzac Legend

Most Australians know of Simpson and his donkey, who became heroes at Gallipoli, even among the Turkish forces. Few know where the donkey came from, or what happened to him after World War I. Or that another man carried on rescuing the wounded with the donkey after Simpson died. This is the story of a small unassuming donkey. It's also the story of Gallipoli, of Jack Simpson, and New Zealander stretcher-bearer Richard Henderson, who literally took up the reins after Simpson's death. Exhaustively researched, it gives a new depth to our understanding of this story of Anzac heroism.