About Me

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Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Monday, September 27, 2010

St Joseph's Tenaru revisited

Over the July holidays I revisited St Joseph's Tenaru Catholic Secondary School in the Solomon Islands where I used to teach. Unfortunately it was holiday time there too, but it was good to see renovations going on: the boys' dormitory was getting a new staircase. The grounds were looking overgrown so I can imagine all the 'brushing' (grass cutting) the students on work session would have done on their first few weeks back.
This is my daughter inspecting the school's cucumber patch. Rice is drying on the concrete in the background. St Joseph's Tenaru has always had a good reputation for teaching agriculture.
I wish the year twelve students all the best for their upcoming PSSC examinations.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Boy Who Was Afraid by Armstrong Sperry

I love this book. It's one of my childhood favourites. I first read it when I was in primary school. (Not quite a hundred years ago) It's the story of Mafatu, the islander boy who lost his mother to the sea when he was very young. Mafatu grows to fear the sea. His father is ashamed of him and the village children ridicule him. To overcome his fear and shame he sets off in a canoe out into the open sea. His only companions are his dog Kivi and a tame albatross.
   Mafatu's courage grows as he learns to survive on an uninhabited island. But the island is visited occassionally by the fierce eaters-of-men who come in their big war canoes. Mafatu flees the cannibals and returns home a hero.

   This is such a classic kid's story about coming of age and confronting your fears. It is a salute to the navigational prowess of the Polynesian people. The copy I have is old and battered but I can't part with it. The book is too easy for PSSC students but it's worth reading for the sheer joy of it.

Canoe ride in Phonpei 1994. Source: Beth Montgomery

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones

When people ask, 'what's your favourite book?' it's too difficult to make a decision because there are just so many super stories out there. But one of my all time fav's is Mr Pip by New Zealand author Lloyd Jones.
Mr Pip (Text Publishing, 2006)
   It's the story of 11-year-old Matilda, a Bouganvillian girl who suffers greatly during the time of the blockade. But Matilda's story isn't all tragedy. It is humourous and poignant too.
   Due to the blockade Matilda's village school shuts down. An eccentric expat nicknamed Pop Eye volunteers to teach the children but there are no resources. (How true this is in so much of the Pacific.) So Pop Eye reads his class Great Expectations and Matilda's interest in literature is sparked.
I adored this book, not just because of the island setting, but because of the clarity of the writing. Matilda's voice rings true. Jones must have rewritten and edited this story countless times to achieve such flawless simplicity of style. His description of the tropics is so tangible I could feel the humidity as I read.
   Mr Pip will make you laugh and it will make you cry your guts out, but mostly it will make you believe in the power of a good story.