Author(s): Susan Battye
This fictional diary records the tragedy, heroism and bitter aftermath of the worst industrial disaster in New Zealand's history - the Brunner Mine Disaster of 1896. The son of a coalminer from Lancashire who is working in the Brunner mine, Tommy is a typical boy living in the West Coast mining community of Dobson. He catches eels, plays cornet in the local band and looks forward to leaving school and getting a job. But he is not keen to follow his uncle down into the Brunner mine, with its hardships and ever-present danger. Tommy has been sent a journal from his maternal grandmother back in England, with the request that he fill it in over the following 12 months and then send it back to her; the idea being that she will in this way get to know the grandson she has never met. This is the story of the terrible day when Tommy's worst fears come true.
Shortlisted for New Zealand Post Children's Book Award: Junior Fiction 2010.
Susan began writing plays for students she taught at Greymouth High School because she could find nothing to direct that came close to fitting the curriculum requirements. She joined with Thelma Eakin in 1997 to write a play titled The Shadow of the Valley about the Brunner Mine disaster, subsequently published by Oxford University Press, and which forms the basis of this book.