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Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl: A New World, Jane Smith (author), Big Sky Publishing, May 2020.


I never can imagine that Almighty God sent females into the world to be cooks and housemaids all their days.

Caroline Chisholm. Humanitarian, 1808 – 1877

It’s not easy coming to the city all alone when you’re a young country girl. It’s even harder when a strange discovery sends you right back in time to 1841!

Carly Mills is about to learn how dangerous Sydney can be for a lonely colonial girl… and how hard it is to move in a corset. Mrs Chisholm tells her that kindness and friendship can make the world a better place. Could she be right?


Whirling the past into the present with a WHOOSH, Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl: A New World is the first in this engaging new, action-packed series by Jane Smith. The hook of a time-travelling portal alone, is just the intrigue that will immediately capture its readers’ attention. Bring in some danger, humour, adventure and fascinating characters, and you have success!

You certainly don’t need to be a history buff to enjoy this extraordinary tale. Jane Smith introduces us to Carly; a young country girl new to a big city and about to embark on her own adventure of starting at boarding school in Brisbane. Whilst visiting friends in Sydney, Carly, and her buddy, Dora, come across discarded shawls that, when worn, magically fling them back to 1841 – squeezed into corsets, mind you – and this ‘foreign’ life definitely throws some interesting challenges at them. Just like for them, for us, meeting Caroline Chisholm is an awe-inspiring experience. Smith superbly sets the scenes, allowing readers to absorb themselves into the world of old and become more familiar with Mrs Chisholm’s social work in the mid-1800s. Through easily-digestible, and unputdownable, short chapters, we learn of the selfless efforts of ‘The Emigrant’s Friend’ and her initiatives to improve the conditions of immigrants, particularly young, vulnerable women, landing on the shores of the colony in search of shelter and employment.

This new historical fiction series will do more than teach facts. Through this completely captivating tale (honestly, this first book is worthy of multiple reads), is the aim to instil courage, strength, integrity, and the values of kindness and friendship. The take-away feeling of empowerment is strong; that one person with stoic beliefs and a can-do attitude gives us the inspiration to stand up and advocate for a better world. At the same time that Smith has based her story on a true pioneer in Australian history, she has in parallel created her ‘Carly Mills’ character with similar traits. I loved this foresight and representation for readers to admire, and aspire to.

Carly MillsTargeted at the middle to upper grade audience, Carly Mills is a natural and smooth slip into the past, with Smith’s friendly tone and charming storytelling ability of a topic that feels far from boring, but truly the opposite. The black and white etched sketches scattered throughout beautifully represent energy and movement with an olden-day style, however in likeness to that narrated child-friendly tone.

Carly Mills: A New World is ideal for children to read independently, as well as for classroom read-alouds and discussion about the influence female humanitarians such as Caroline Chisholm had, and continue to have, on women’s rights and the future of our country. The helpful historical note and interview with Caroline Chisholm at the end of the book also act as terrific resources to highlight the importance of how her path and perseverance has shaped history.

An exhilarating caper wrapped in fact and fiction – inspiring, refreshing, and highly recommended. Can’t wait for the next one!

Review by Romi Sharp

Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl: A New World is available to purchase at Big Sky Publishing| Booktopia


Endorsements for Carly Mills:

WOW! A launch thwarted yet a glorious EXPLOSION of excitement, action and Aussie history, as country girl, CARLY, launches into an extraordinary adventure, in ye olde Sydney-town, hurled back in time, where she learns the super-values of kindness, friendship and wonder, from our very own CAROLINE CHISHOLM! 
Jennifer Ann Davies National Council of Women (QLD) and International Council of Women

… an interesting approach to teaching history to young people. I imagine it would raise many areas for discussion. The clothing and living conditions brought to light a better understanding of life in early Australia and the lack of amenities that we take for granted would surprise them. However even without the educational aspects it was a good story.
Des Taylor, Education Adviser of National Council of Women QLD

This does more than acknowledge our female trailblazers. It teaches our daughters about them in a delightful and entertaining way. Gold!
Madonna King, author and journalist


Jane Smith talks about her series, Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl… 

Making the World a Better Place with Carly Mills #BookGiveaway!

Enter here for your CHANCE to WIN a copy of this fun and inspiring book.

Discover the inspiration, and more, behind Jane Smith’s new adventure series, Carly Mills, with special appearances at the following media sources…


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