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, February 27, 2012

Sticker Books

(Nelson Doubleday, 1967)
Sticker Books have come a long way over the last forty years. I recently bought my daughter a Harry Potter Lego version which was a lot of fun and had hundreds of stickers inside. Many of the stickers are meant to be put on particular pages to complete a scene, while others are extras that kids can put wherever they like, on drawings, in their own books or on the walls...(eeek!)
   A week ago I found a sticker book published in 1967 by Nelson Doubleday. It was titled Australia's Island Territories. I opened it and was immediately transported to my childhood. Gum-backed rectangular glossy stickers, each with a white border were peppered throughout the fact-filled booklet. Each numbered sticker had a caption. As a child I had a similar book on dinosaurs and another on insects; one of my brothers had one about aeroplanes.
Sample sticker of Nauru
Source: Ronald Rose
   Australia's Island Territories is a small booklet filled with geographic and historical facts on Norfolk, Cocos and Christmas Islands as well as Nauru. It is a real snap-shot of the 1960's. I enjoyed looking at the pristine beaches and the people in the photos. There is also a double page spread of maps illustrated in orange, black and white.
Sample sticker of Norfolk Island
Source: Qantas Airways Ltd
   The format is very formal and dry but it was all we had in those days. Now kids are bombarded with facts on the TV and Internet, all presented in a fresh, engaging manner. They would overlook the old style sticker book in a nanosecond.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pix of Nauru

I found some of these old photos in my cupboard. They are scenes of Nauru from 1992 and 1993. Wow, some of these are 20 years old.

The cantilever that deposits phosphate into the ships.
Source: B Montgomery

Anibare Bay. Source: B Montgomery.

Pinnicles in the foreground, remaining vegetation in the background.
Source: B Montgomery

Friday, February 10, 2012

Yield Not to the Wind by Margaret Clarence

There's a corner store ten minutes walk away from my house where I often by bread and milk and a newspaper. The old man who owns the store was a regular visitor to the Solomon Islands in his younger days as he had been a keen SCUBA diver. A friend of his found a biography in a second-hand store in Melbourne all about a married couple called the Bignells who ran a plantation in the Solomons in the early 1900s. He lent the storeman the book who in turn lent it to me. The biography is called Yield Not to the Wind and is written by a daughter of the couple, Margaret Clarence (nee Bignell).
   Well, what a read! It is an amazing story of an iron-willed Scottish woman Kathleen who married an Australian adventurer, Charles Bignell. Charles and Kathleen Bignell settled in the Solomons and built a large homestead at Fulakora, at the end of the Santa Ysabel island. This is the island my husband comes from. A small world indeed!
   The Bignells traded in copra and shells, having their own cutters which sailed throughout the Solomons. Their children spent their early years frollicking in the lagoons and beaches before being sent to boarding schools in Sydney. Later when their three children had grown-up, their marriage faultered and Kathleen moved to PNG and sussessfully ran a hotel by herself in Rabaul. Soon after the war came and Kathleen was captured by the japanese. She spent a few years as a prisoner of war and returned to Australia a broken woman.
   I enjoyed reading this account of an amazing couple who battled through all kinds of hardship and clearly thived on the challenge. Self published in 1982, the Bignells eldest child is the author and her fondness of the Solomon Islands shines through. Some of the language is patronising when refering to "the natives", but I think it's a product of having been written by a woman who grew up as a member of the ruling colonial class of the day.
   Some of the book had snippets of Kathleen Bignell's poems which were mainly doggerel, but these were easy enough to skim over. The details of her life in Japan as a prisoner of war were harrowing. The best part about reading this was how my husband could tell me more about the places seen in the photos. There is also a chapter written about the Malaita massacre years from 1926 to 1928 which is gory but interesting.
   Now I must return this book to the man who runs the corner store. As the book was self published there was probably a very small print run. I wonder if I'll ever find a copy again.