The fifth book in the series features the two men known as "Captain Starlight". Both were bushrangers who travelled widely across the country in the second half of the 19th Century, and although their backgrounds and their crimes differed greatly, they are linked by their connection with a character from a novel. Frank Pearson was the first "Starlight who burst onto the scene in 1868, when he abandoned his practice as a doctor, stole a horse and took off on a bushranging spree that ended in a shoot out and the death of a policeman. Pearson was a very talented man: intelligent, well educated and well read, and a clever artist and composer. He was also a pathological liar with no moral compass whatsoever. He had so many aliases that we don't even know what his real name was. The other was Henry Readford, whose stunning theft of 1000 cattle was the inspiration for the fictional character "Captain Starlight" in Rolf Boldrewoods novel Robbery Under Arms.
Author and librarian Jane Smith has a passion for Australian history and bushrangers in particular. With thirteen books on the subject published since 2014, and with titles receiving award nominations in the ABIA and CBCA awards and glowing reviews nationally it appears that Jane’s fascination with Australian history is shared by children, parents and teachers alike!
In 2015 Captain Thunderbolt from her much loved Australian Bushranger series was shortlisted in the 2015 ABIA Awards. Shoot-out from the Rock the first in her new series, Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy, followed suit as a 2017 CBCA Book of the Year notable. The books teach younger readers about the colourful lives of our bushranging legends and the times they lived in. Her meticulous research offers an insight that goes beyond the surface into the personalities of her ‘characters’ and debunks a few well-known myths and ‘facts’ along the way.
Jane’s clever and entertaining series has been written with not only a flare for fun and reader engagement but also with the Australian National Curriculum in mind. The seventh book in the Tommy Bell series was released in February 2019.