Guest blog from Emily Conolan, author of The Freedom Finders series

by |April 3, 2018

Guest blog from Emily Conolan, author of the Freedom Finders Series

I’m so excited to be the author of the new series for kids, The Freedom Finders. When I was younger, I was mad about Choose Your Own Adventure books. These books, wildly popular in the eighties, put you, the reader, in the driver’s seat and allowed YOU to make the choices as the plot unfolded. Would you fight back against the wizard, or run away? Zap the alien, or agree to enter its spaceship?

Break Your Chains by Emily ConolanThis style of interactive fiction is enjoying a resurgence, but has always been limited to the realms of sci-fi and fantasy. However, choices surround us every day – and if you’re a child on the run from a war zone, those choices can have life-and-death consequences.

I’ve spent my professional life working with people who have come to Australia seeking safety. As a teacher and a refugee advocate, I’ve been privileged to have heard first-hand many extraordinary true stories of heartbreak, loss, and survival against the odds. I remember my dear friend Tabitha, from Rwanda. She hadn’t seen her husband for twenty years: she presumed he’d died in the genocide. Tabitha’s daughter barely remembered her father. Then one day, she told me he’d been found: alive, after all this time! Tabitha’s eyes sparkled and she shook her head incredulously. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. ‘God is impossible!’ she told me. Then she held up her fingers, as if she was pinching a grain of sand. ‘Nearly impossible,’ she smiled.

Touch the Sun by Emily ConolanFrom surviving a storm at sea, to breaking out of jail or escaping from terrorists, these ‘nearly impossible’ stories deserve to be told, and enjoyed by a wide range of readers. The Freedom Finders brings the compelling, unpredictable nature of these migration journeys to life in a way that even reluctant readers can enjoy. Because of the maze-like intricacies of the plot, kids love discussing and comparing the choices they made, and going back to explore new pathways. And because The Freedom Finders series spans the whole of Australian history since colonisation, teachers will have a rich choice of options to link back to the curriculum, plus fact files in the back of each book on relevant issues, and online teacher’s notes.

Writing The Freedom Finders series has been a huge responsibility and an immense joy. I have made it my highest priority to honour and collaborate with those people who have shared their stories with me. I’ve aimed to present each book to you in a way that will make you think big thoughts, feel big feelings, and want to read them again and again.

P.S: Can you find the seven gemstones hidden throughout the series? An Irish convict girl brings a bracelet of seven gems to Van Diemen’s Land in the book Break Your Chains: the bracelet breaks, and the stones are scattered, but one of the gemstones appears again in each of the Freedom Finders books. By reading the whole series, you can work out what happened to each gemstone as it took its own journey through history. Have fun!

Break Your Chainsby Emily Conolan

Break Your Chains

The Freedom Finders Series

by Emily Conolan

Choose your own destiny and step into the shoes of an Irish girl making her way from London to Australia in 1825 - the first book in an exciting interactive adventure series.

To find freedom, you must leave behind everything you've ever known.

It is 1825. You and Ma have survived on the streets of London ever since the soldiers took Da away and you fled Ireland. Now, with Ma gone too, you find yourself facing life-and-death choices at every turn...

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