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Ruth Park Books In Order

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Publication Order of Harp in the South Books

Poor Man's Orange (1949)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Harp in the South (1951)Description / Buy at Amazon
Missus (1985)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Muddle-Headed Wombat Books

The Muddle-Headed Wombat (1963)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Muddle-Headed Wombat On Holiday (1964)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Muddle-Headed Wombat in the Treetops (1965)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Muddle Headed Wombat At School (1966)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Muddle-headed Wombat in the Snow (1966)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Muddle-Headed Wombat On A Rainy Day (1970)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Muddle-Headed Wombat in the Springtime (1970)Description / Buy at Amazon
Muddle-headed Wombat on the River (1971)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Muddle-headed Wombat and the Bush Band (1971)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Muddle-Headed Wombat And The Invention (1975)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Muddle-headed Wombat on Clean-up Day (1976)Description / Buy at Amazon
More Adventures of the Muddle-Headed Wombat (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Muddle Headed Wombat Is Very Bad (1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Muddle-Headed Wombat Stays at Home (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Witch's Thorn (1952)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Power Of Roses (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dear Hearts And Gentle People (1955)Description / Buy at Amazon
Pink Flannel (1955)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Frost And The Fire / One-a-pecker, Two-a-pecker (1958)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Hole In The Hill / Secret Of The Maori Cave (1961)Description / Buy at Amazon
Road Under The Sea (1962)Description / Buy at Amazon
Serpent's Delight / Good Looking Women (1962)Description / Buy at Amazon
Airlift For Grandee (1965)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Sixpenny Island (1968)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ten-cent Island (1968)Description / Buy at Amazon
Callie's Castle (1974)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Gigantic Balloon (1976)Description / Buy at Amazon
Merchant Campbell (1976)Description / Buy at Amazon
Swords And Crowns And Rings (1977)Description / Buy at Amazon
Come Danger, Come Darkness (1978)Description / Buy at Amazon
Playing Beatie Bow (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Big Brass Key (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
My Sister Sif (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
Callie's Family (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
Callie (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Picture Books

The Shaky Island (1962)Description / Buy at Amazon
Nuki and the Sea Serpent (1969)Description / Buy at Amazon
Roger Bandy (1977)Description / Buy at Amazon
When the Wind Changed (1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
James (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

Things in Corners (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Ruth Park's Sydney (1973)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Companion Guide To Sydney (1973)Description / Buy at Amazon
Norfolk Island And Lord Howe Island (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Sydney We Love (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Fence Around The Cuckoo (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
Fishing In The Styx (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon

Ruth Park is a New Zealand-born author of children’s books. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, her family later relocated to Te Kuiti, further south on the North Island of New Zealand, where they spent years in isolated areas. Ruth has spent most of her life in Australia.
During the Great Depression, Ruth’s father took on various jobs to make ends meet, from working on bush roads to being a council worker in Auckland. Despite winning a partial scholarship, Ruth’s education was interrupted by financial hardships. This lead her to stay with relatives, where she faced harsh treatment. She was involved in the Queen Street riots alongside her father and later worked at the Auckland Star before moving to Australia in 1942, where she married Australian writer D’Arcy Niland.

Her literary debut, The Harp in the South, depicted Irish slum life in Sydney, stirring controversy among critics who denied the existence of such slums despite Ruth’s own experiences living in Surry Hills. This novel has been translated into ten languages. She also wrote about New Zealand’s gold mining history in “One-a-pecker, Two-a-pecker,” later renamed “The Frost and The Fire.” Ruth Park’s contributions to literature and media were recognized with several awards in Australia and internationally.

One of Ruth Park’s notable novels is Playing Beatie Bow (1986). It introduces the readers to Abigail Kirk, whose relatively stable life in Sydney’s Mitchell Towers is about to spiral into chaos. The revelation that her mother is rekindling a romance with her father, the man who abandoned them years ago, is unsettling enough. Yet, the prospect of relocating to Norway so her father can attend a prestigious university adds layers of dread and resentment. Abigail grapples with conflicting emotions: betrayal by her mother’s willingness to forgive and the daunting fear of being left behind or, worse, being sent to live with her disdainful grandmother.

Awakening to a Sydney unmarked by modernity, Abigail is thrust into a community speaking a dialect of English she barely recognizes. She is mistaken for nobility due to her unblemished skin and refined hands—starkly contrasting her self-image back home. In this new world, she is cared for by Granny, meets Dovey’s benevolent presence, and crosses paths with Judah, a sea-hardened relative with an air of mystery. Central to her adventure in this bygone Sydney is Beatie Bow, the ‘furry girl’ from the playground, whose desperate plea for secrecy about her origins hints at a deeper narrative woven with magic and foreboding. Abigail’s stay with the Bows leads to unforeseen emotional developments, especially when she is drawn to Judah, Beatie’s brother, despite the complications it brings. This marks a pivotal moment for Abigail as she experiences deep connection and vulnerability for the first time.

Playing Beatie Bow is nothing short of a gem in Australian literature. Garnering the prestigious 1981 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, this story has charmed its way into the hearts of many, securing a spot on numerous English reading lists across Australia. Its appeal is so enduring that it inspired a film adaptation in 1986 featuring Peter Phelps.

Ruth Park’s creation has effortlessly sailed through the decades, showcasing its timeless allure. The story skillfully blends elements that cater to a broad audience—teenage dilemmas, a gripping fantasy involving time travel, tender romantic moments, and exhilarating action, all wrapped up with a touch of poignant sadness. Set against the uniquely Australian backdrop, the novel proudly celebrates its origins while delivering a richly woven tale.

Central to the narrative is its setting in Sydney, which is a character in its own right. Ruth Park’s Playing Beatie Bow is a testament to the power of storytelling, blending fantasy, history, and personal growth. Its rich tapestry of themes and vivid portrayal of Australian heritage make it a cherished novel that resonates just as strongly with readers today as it did when it was first published.

Swords and Crowns and Rings is a standalone novel by Ruth Pars, first published in 1977. The book delves into the struggles of the Great Depression, portraying life through the eyes of a character who embodies resilience in the face of societal prejudice. Jack, the novel’s protagonist, is a dwarf. Yet, Park’s narrative transcends the physical, painting Jack with a rich palette of human virtues from a multicultural lens, highlighting his indomitable spirit rather than stature.

Jack’s journey is set against the harsh backdrop of the 1920s and 30s when differences were often met with ignorance and cruelty. Despite his societal challenges, Jack’s story is one of unwavering self-belief, a gift from his nurturing parents. His bond with Cushie Moy, the girl next door, exemplifies the potential for human connection to surpass societal barriers, even as Cushie’s elitist parents scorn their closeness.

Driven by a need to prove his worth in a world that often overlooks him, Jack’s search for employment takes him far from the comfort of familiarity, landing him in the midst of the Linz family’s farm. Here, he encounters cruelty at its most brutal, save for a glimmer of kindness from Maida, the farmer’s daughter. The narrative takes a dark turn as Jack endures violence only to find himself tied to the Linz family in the most unexpected of ways—through marriage to Maida and the birth of their son, Carl. However, the fleeting happiness is shattered by a tragic twist, spiraling Jack into further despair and misjudgment.

The novel doesn’t just chronicle Jack’s tribulations; it serves as a canvas for Ruth Park to explore the broader social dynamics of the Depression era. The portrayal of poverty, unemployment, and societal exclusion offers a poignant commentary on the times. Jack’s eventual return to his origins, facing his mother’s illness and societal prejudice, underscores the cyclical nature of the struggle and the relentless search for dignity amidst adversity.

Through Jack’s eyes, Park invites readers to witness the resilience of the human spirit, the complexity of societal relations during one of history’s most challenging periods, and the enduring power of belief in oneself. Her ability to weave together personal and societal narratives with such empathy and insight solidifies this work’s place in literature and offers a timeless reflection on the human condition.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Ruth Park

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