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  • Published: 16 March 2022
  • ISBN: 9781761045523
  • Imprint: William Heinemann Australia
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $34.99

Reckoning

The forgotten children and their quest for justice




The story of how David Hill and the other Forgotten Children took on the the institutions that tried to break them - and won.

The Forgotten Children was David Hill’s heartbreaking account of the abuse that he and other ‘orphans of empire’ survived at the Fairbridge Farm School in New South Wales. Part memoir, part oral history, the book became a bestseller. It was also the catalyst in a subsequent battle for justice, which resulted in the Fairbridge kids being awarded a record $24 million in compensation by the NSW Supreme Court. And that was just the start of a reckoning with institutional abuse of power that reverberates to this day.

In Reckoning David recounts stories of the shocking systemic abuse at Fairbridge, and how he led the fight against the powerful people and organisations – including the Australian and British governments and the Royal Family ­– who denied and covered up terrible crimes perpetrated on innocent children, some as young as five years old. David’s fight for acknowledgement and restitution was for himself but especially for those kids, who as adults showed remarkable, enduring resilience and determination in holding to account the establishments responsible for their suffering.

Reckoning is both a tribute to the children who were betrayed by broken system and a compelling account of an extraordinary quest for justice. It is the story of how David Hill and the other Forgotten Children took on the institutions that tried to break them – and won.

  • Published: 16 March 2022
  • ISBN: 9781761045523
  • Imprint: William Heinemann Australia
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $34.99

About the author

David Hill

David Hill is a prolific and highly regarded New Zealand writer, playwright, poet, columnist and critic. Best known for his highly popular and award-winning body of work for young people, ranging from picture books to teenage fiction, his novels have been published all around the world and translated into several languages, and his short stories and plays for young people have been broadcast here and overseas.

Born in Napier, New Zealand, David studied at Victoria University of Wellington and became a high-school teacher, teaching both in New Zealand and the UK. In 1982 he became a full-time writer and his first novel for teenagers, See Ya, Simon (1992), about a boy with muscular dystrophy, was shortlisted for major awards in New Zealand and the UK and won the 1994 Times Educational Supplement Award for Special Needs. An enduringly popular novel used as a class text in high schools all over New Zealand, in 2002 it was awarded the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book.

David has published more than 40 titles over the past three decades. His recent middle-grade novels include My Brother's War (2012), which in 2013 won the Junior Fiction Award and the Children's Choice Junior Fiction Award in the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, the LIANZA Librarian's Choice Award and was listed as a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction book, a White Raven and an IBBY Honour book. This was followed by novels Brave Company (2014) – also a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction book; The Deadly Sky (2015); Enemy Camp (2016), which won the 2016 HELL Children’s Choice Award for Junior Fiction; Flight Path (2017), a Storylines Notable Book; and Finding (May 2018).

David is also the author of a number of critically acclaimed picture books with illustrator Phoebe Morris. First to the Top (2015) is their bestselling story of the life of Sir Edmund Hillary, which won the 2016 Children's Choice Award for non-fiction and was a 2016 Storylines Notable Picture Book. Speed King (2016), about the world-record-breaking achievements of Burt Munro, and Sky High (2017), recounting the life of the daring aviator Jean Batten, were both presented with Storylines Notable Picture Book awards. Hero of the Sea: Sir Peter Blake's Mighty Ocean Quests was published in 2018 and Dinosaur Hunter: Joan Wiffen's Awesome Fossil Discoveries was published in 2019.

In 2004 David was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2005 he was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, acknowledging his significant contribution to children's literature in New Zealand.

In November 2021 David was awarded the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement - Fiction in recognition of his outstanding contribution to New Zealand Literature.

He lives in New Plymouth with his wife Beth, and juggles his many writing projects with numerous school visits, leading professional development for teachers, mentoring new and emerging writers and tutoring creative writing.

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Praise for Reckoning

David Hill tells the important story of an ultimately successful quest for justice, on behalf of children who suffered institutionalised cruelty under the guise of imperial benevolence. He has been determined to expose and then call to account the British and Australian governments and the institutions themselves for turning a blind eye to the ways in which children in their care were brutalised, buggered and bewildered, in homes that were little better than slave labour camps. This powerful book should serve as a warning to all persons responsible for the care of vulnerable people: your failures of oversight and safeguarding will one day return to haunt you.

Geoffrey Robertson

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