The Those Kids series is a set of environmentally themed high-interest adventure books (written for children from 9 to 14 years), based on real places, people and events. These illustrated books follow the lives of two fictional sailing families (Australian and Kiwi) over the course of two years. drawing on the sailing & camping lifestyle of the author’s own five sons while voyaging around NZ, Australia and the Pacific.
Jon Tucker originally conceived these books as a feeder series for Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons more complex twelve book series.
Jon has constructed these books to cater for reluctant readers in the upper-primary and secondary school age-group who are likely to find the length and complexity of Arthur Ransome’s books too daunting. With chapter lengths limited to approximately six pages each, the books are suitable for adults to read aloud to children, and for time-challenged contemporary kids to read in manageable bites.
Already it appears that having gained confidence and interest from this series, a number of pre-teenagers have moved on to similar longer books, including Arthur Ransome’s.
Interestingly enough, it has also gained the attention of a significant proportion of adult readers, who are fascinated with the deeper underlying themes of trust and responsibility, as well as the interrelationships between the young characters and adults in the books.
The series is now listed as a schools resource on environmental websites (click here) . Those Eco-Pirate Kids was a finalist for the Environmental Award for Children’s Literature in 2015, and Those Shipwreck kids has been nominated for the 2018 award.
The first three are available as ebooks, or as paperbacks from many Australian and NZ bookstores, as well as directly from email@example.com. The fourth is due for publication mid 2018.
Book 1: Those Snake Island Kids
When three Tasmanian kids are joined by Kiwi twins to camp on a small local island, they don’t anticipate the events which are to leave them isolated. With real buried treasure on their minds, it’s hardly surprising that they misinterpret the intentions of a bearded bird-lover who arrives on their island with his suspicious map and rifle. [Environmental theme: Minimum impact, Feral cats]
Book 2: Those Eco-Pirate Kids
Fin has always been passionate about fishing, so when he discovers an illegal net full of undersized fish in Sydney’s northern waterways, his first reaction is to empty it. The subsequent events turn a fun holiday into a rather more complex experience. [Environmental theme: Sustainable fishing]
Book 3: Those Shipwreck kids
When a Tasmanian sailing family anchors near an old wrecked hulk in New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds, the kids discover a strangely abandoned campsite nearby, with plates of uneaten food and children’s toys still visible under the cockroaches and mould. Their curiosity leads to an investigation which adds a layer of intrigue to their much-anticipated fun experiences of an unfamiliar foreign land. [Environmental themes: Predator control issues, Biosecurity]
Book 4: Those Sugar-barge Kids
Three Tasmanian sailing children give chase to a black-sailed dinghy in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands. Before they know it they are up to their neck in a conflict with a local oyster farmer, who mistakes them for another pair of feisty young pirates who live with their often-absent father on an abandoned sugar-barge among the mangrove swamps. [Environmental themes: Sealevel rise, Plastics in the ocean]
Book 5: Those Kids did WHAT?
A Tasmanian family voyage to an uninhabited atoll in New Caledonia’s Loyalty Islands turns into a desperate exercise in cooperation and self-reliance for three kids when their parents are struck down with serious fish poisoning. The two brothers and their sister are able to combine their distinct separate qualities and passions, to successfully sail their yacht to a safe port for their parents’ recovery. [Environmental themes: Ocean acidification, coral bleaching]
Book 6 : Those Kids up that Lake.
When five Tasmanian and Kiwi sailing kids decide to explore a remote lake for a few days in some kayaks, they chance upon a set of odd paw-prints. Could this be evidence of the supposedly extinct Tasmanian Tiger? In their search for further clues, they learn more about themselves and their environment than they expected. [Environmental themes: Human impact, diminishing biodiversity]