Ming Qong is a perfect junior-historical-fiction heroine for 2022. She’s outspoken and self-absorbed yet insatiably curious, blessed with a hefty amount of 12-year-old attitude and an annoying twin brother. Add to this mix a loving dad and absent mother, and it’s apparent that Ming has everything you could want in a girl whose mission it is to change the world!
Ming is convinced that it can’t possibly be just boys who have changed the world in the past. However, the history books don’t agree with her. Happily for us, Ming soon finds herself travelling back through time to a drought-stricken farm in the year 1898. Here, she turns into 12-year old Flo and lives a turbulent few weeks, learning very quickly about grief, resilience and loyalty.
There are so many things to love about this book. The characters instantly spring to life and the time-travel transitions are seamless. Aunt McTavish has my favourite name – she’s not Scottish at all but if you say Aunt McTavish out loud three times you’ll see kilts, haggis and bagpipes. Central to the all-consuming plotline, this aunt rescues Flo/Ming from the farm and takes her to Sydney town where they become embroiled in the quest for Federation and the Suffragette movement.
The story traverses vast swathes of landscape, both physical and emotional, with wonderful technical competence. History lessons exist as exciting plot points. We are taken, breathless, into menacing situations around the Suffragette movement, feeling an intense investment in the characters’ physical and emotional safety.
Alongside this, various cultural and family challenges are played out across the centuries, bringing with them the gift of quiet understanding and resonance. Ming/Flo moves between motherless child, cultural-other, almost-orphan and caretaker-of-friend in a way that’s human, flawed and believable. Many young readers will identify deeply with Ming’s changing community, family and home dynamics.
Without giving anything away, the end of the story offers a surprise which illustrates how even a small, insignificant act can bring about a ‘butterfly effect’ to change history/herstory.
It’s somehow gratifying to see that even after her adventure, Ming is still so totallyself-absorbed that her know-it-all attitude angers the Time Warden known as Herstory (yes, very silly to anger someone with the power to fling you through time!).
There are bound to be repercussions… which we’ll discover in the next highly anticipated instalment of the series!
Title: Ming And Flo Fight For The Future
Author: Jackie French
Publisher: HarperCollins $8.99
Publication Date: 2 March, 2022
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle grade fiction
April 27, 2022 at 12:56AM DimbutNice