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Having Sailing Adventures

Diane Fagan Author Interview

Jodie’s Adventure on Driftwood Island follows a young girl visiting the island with her classmates who ends up uncovering a sinister plot involving the wildlife there. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

When I arrived in Australia from Canada, over 40 years ago, some friends introduced me to sailing and I thought it was a wonderful experience to be out on the ocean, feeling the sun and the wind on my face. When we returned from the day out and put the boat back on its mooring, I’d look up at the boatshed next to the wharf and imagine a young girl living upstairs with her father. I thought how magical it would be to live there year round, and I dreamed up stories about a girl living above a boatshed, and having sailing adventures around the harbour.

The setting of Driftwood Island is based on a real island off the coast of Australia, called Fraser Island, or K’Gari, a world listed heritage site where I’ve holidayed with my husband and four children. It is a beautiful sand island with rainforests and lakes, and amazing wildlife. Off the coast there are dolphins and whales and turtles and so many marine animals. Unfortunately, wildlife smuggling is a large problem in Australia and it is difficult to control. Many animals perish by being stuck in suitcases and boxes and I wanted to highlight this activity by placing Jodie on a school excursion where she discovers this illegal activity and uses her courage and determination to help the rangers catch the criminals.

What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

I love Jodie’s resilience and determination! Many children today struggle with issues of self-esteem and self-worth, and can feel anxious and lonely, especially with the pressures of social media. So, I want to show young readers that they too can cope with life’s challenges and develop a sense of self belief by being willing to get out and play sport, or go for walks, or just be in nature. Jodie’s interest in the natural world helps to take her away from her problems and leads her to amazing adventures and experiences.

What were some educational aspects that were important for you to include in this children’s book?

Jodie goes to a girl’s school, St Margarets, where her mother and grandmother attended and initially she is bullied and unhappy. It can be difficult for children starting a new school and Jodie struggles, but she eventually makes friends and learns to stand up to the bully. I like that she can support her friends when they are bullied, and she even tries to help the girl who bullied her when she is stalked by a dingo, during their school excursion.

I hope the series continues in other books. If so, where will it take readers?

This is my third book in the Jodie series and is set on an island off the coast of Australia. The other two books are based in Sydney Harbour. The first book deals with the death of Jodie’s mother and the problems she has of coping with a new school and a father who is locked in grief. The second book is based at a real place in Sydney called Crater Cove, where Jodie meets a homeless girl and comes to her aid when she is in trouble.

My fourth book is entitled Jodie’s Challenge at Sandpiper Hill. It is also based in Sydney Harbour where Jodie finds a colourful bottle washed up on the sand. She is determined to discover the mystery of the bottle and with her usual doggedness, is led to a series of adventures, where she learns about the value of friendship and family.

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Twelve-year old Jodie Jackson goes on a school excursion to Driftwood Island. They go on bush walks through the rainforest and swim in crystal blue lakes.

Jodie sleeps in a tent with her best friend Sarah Chan and one afternoon they spot a mother dingo with two pups. One of the pups is limping.

Jodie finds a teddy bear in the car park and gives it to Andrea, who was teased because she had brought her own teddy bear to camp.

Jodie helps Teela, the senior ranger, try and save a beached dolphin but sadly it dies. Teela tells her a story about dolphins and living in Lemeuria.

Jodie and her friends go on a boat to see the whales and she finds some more teddy bears and some white tubes hidden in the bottom of the boat.

When they arrive back at shore, one of the girls goes off by herself to collect a piece of driftwood, and a dingo starts to stalk her. The teacher tries to help but falls over, so Jodie and her friends run over as a group, shouting and screaming and rescue her.

When Jodie stubs her toe on a tent peg, and can’t walk to the shipwreck, she accompanies Teela on her ranger duties. At the Resort, Jodie notices two men having an argument, and one of them drops a box filled with the same white tubes. Later she sees the same men at the creek at the Old Village where they act suspiciously.

Jodie and Maddie drive to a historic cabin and discover some boxes containing white tubes, and Maddie is bitten by a snake. Jodie tries to call for help on her two-way but can’t get reception. She tries to drive the jeep to the main road but the same two men appear and Jodie convinces them to drive Maddie back to the Ranger’s Office. They leave her at the shack.
Jodie notices a reptile coming out of one of the white tubes and finds more reptiles in other tubes, and realizes the men are wildlife smugglers. She releases the reptiles in the bush and the men return so she hides. They discover her and are angry at her for releasing the animals and they tie her up and leave with a baby dingo that they had captured.

One of the men drops a cigarette and a fire starts. Jodie struggles to free herself but one of the men returns and releases her and puts out the fire. Together they drive back and notify the rangers that the other man is boarding a ferry with the baby dingo.

The police arrest both men and Jodie is praised for her assistance with the smugglers. Teela promises to look after the rescued baby dingo.

Jodie’s Adventure on Driftwood Island

Young Jodie and her best friend Sarah look forward to adventures in nature on magical Driftwood Island. With beautiful rainforests, intriguing shipwrecks, and historic sacred places, the possibilities are truly endless on this protected island close to Australia. But as the holiday progresses, Jodie finds more twists and turns than she ever could have imagined. And when disaster strikes, Jodie must act quickly to save the wildlife of Driftwood Island from a sinister plot.

The best books are stories that not only have incredible characters and wonderful plot developments but also something new for the reader to learn. Jodie’s Adventure on Driftwood Island by Diane Fagan ticks all the boxes. I immensely enjoyed spending an afternoon learning all about national parks in Australia alongside Jodie and her friends. Courageous Jodie, who struggles with grief and bullying, is a girl I immediately connected with. I loved seeing the story unfold as Jodie’s path intersects with many others on mysterious Driftwood Island. Reminding me of many happy childhood hours spent reading Nancy Drew mysteries, this third entry in the series is an instant favorite.

The overall story of acceptance, healing, and protecting the environment is a well-written tale of hope. Though there are themes of grief and mortality, these themes are presented gently with the goal of finding peace in a world that can be difficult to understand while making a positive difference in the lives of others in need.

Suitable for ages ten and up and all who love a middle-grade mystery on a wintry afternoon. This engaging children’s book has excellent plot development and a meaningful story. I simply can’t wait to see more from this promising author as Jodie’s adventures continue to unfold. Jodie’s Adventure on Driftwood Island is a perfect addition to any home library, a story of hope and healing, of harmony and love.

Pages: 160 | ASIN : B099MQHZ1D

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Jodie’s Adventure on Driftwood Island – Book Trailer

Twelve-year old Jodie Jackson goes on a school excursion to Driftwood Island. They go on bush walks through the rainforest and swim in crystal blue lakes.

Jodie sleeps in a tent with her best friend Sarah Chan and one afternoon they spot a mother dingo with two pups. One of the pups is limping.

Jodie finds a teddy bear in the car park and gives it to Andrea, who was teased because she had brought her own teddy bear to camp.

Jodie helps Teela, the senior ranger, try and save a beached dolphin but sadly it dies. Teela tells her a story about dolphins and living in Lemeuria.

Jodie and her friends go on a boat to see the whales and she finds some more teddy bears and some white tubes hidden in the bottom of the boat.

When they arrive back at shore, one of the girls goes off by herself to collect a piece of driftwood, and a dingo starts to stalk her. The teacher tries to help but falls over, so Jodie and her friends run over as a group, shouting and screaming and rescue her.

When Jodie stubs her toe on a tent peg, and can’t walk to the shipwreck, she accompanies Teela on her ranger duties. At the Resort, Jodie notices two men having an argument, and one of them drops a box filled with the same white tubes. Later she sees the same men at the creek at the Old Village where they act suspiciously.

Jodie and Maddie drive to a historic cabin and discover some boxes containing white tubes, and Maddie is bitten by a snake. Jodie tries to call for help on her two-way but can’t get reception. She tries to drive the jeep to the main road but the same two men appear and Jodie convinces them to drive Maddie back to the Ranger’s Office. They leave her at the shack.
Jodie notices a reptile coming out of one of the white tubes and finds more reptiles in other tubes, and realizes the men are wildlife smugglers. She releases the reptiles in the bush and the men return so she hides. They discover her and are angry at her for releasing the animals and they tie her up and leave with a baby dingo that they had captured.

One of the men drops a cigarette and a fire starts. Jodie struggles to free herself but one of the men returns and releases her and puts out the fire. Together they drive back and notify the rangers that the other man is boarding a ferry with the baby dingo.

The police arrest both men and Jodie is praised for her assistance with the smugglers. Teela promises to look after the rescued baby dingo.

Jodie’s Secret at Crater Cove – Book Trailer

Twelve-year old Jodie Jackson lives with her father above their boatshed in Serpentine Bay in Sydney. Jodie and her best friend Sarah are targeted at school by a bully. Jodie stands up to her but Sarah suffers from anxiety because of it. Jodie suggests that Sarah tell her parents about her worries.

Jodie misses her mother who has died the year before especially as there is a Mother/Daughter lunch at school. She works at her grandmother’s spiritual shop to earn money for an excursion and invites her grandmother to the lunch.

Jodie sails her little boat around the harbour, exploring islands and bush areas and goes to Crater Cove, where there are old shacks from the depression era that she wants to sketch for art class.

She discovers a homeless girl hiding there and learns that the girl is a vet student studying at university on a scholarship but with nowhere to live.

Jodie sees smoke in the sky and hears the news report about a fire near Crater Cove and worries about the girl. Jodie is unable to contact her father or her grandmother, so she takes her father’s runabout, even though she is unqualified.

Jodie tries to land but the smoke is too thick to see. Her motor dies and she drifts closer and closer to the rocks but the water police appear and start to tow her boat back to safety.

As they tow her away Jodie notices Serena waving for help from the shore and the water police rescue her. They take both girls back to Jodie’s house and her father is very relieved at seeing her, but also cross that she took out the runabout. Serena is invited to stay at Jodie’s house until they sort out her accommodation.

The next day Jodie’s grandmother falls and fractures her ankle and goes to hospital and Jodie is afraid she won’t be able to come to the Mother/Daughter lunch.

Jodie finds that she is missing thirty dollars when she goes to school to pay for the excursion. She confronts Serena who admits that she took it to buy some medicine for an infected cut from an oyster shell. She was planning to replace it later.

Jodie is angry but when she sees Serena’s infected leg, she understands.

Jodie’s Rescue – Book Trailer

Twelve-year-old Jodie Jackson lives with her father above their family boatshed in Serpentine Bay in Sydney Harbour. She attends a new school, where she is faced with bullying and loneliness. She is also feeling grief at the death of her mother the year before. She misses her mother and wonders where she is now.

Her father is consumed by his work and won’t share his emotions with Jodie, so she takes solace in sailing her boat around Sydney Harbour. Her favourite spot is Lighthouse Point where her family used to go for picnics. Her father refuses to go there as it brings up memories, but Jodie likes to feel that she is connecting with her mother.

She makes new friends with Sarah Chan and together they explore the derelict lighthouse and Jodie finds an old photo of a girl. The ranger finds them trespassing and they discover that there are plans for the area to be turned into a marina and a restaurant. Jodie is horrified.

The girls find some dead penguins floating in the water and later Jodie finds a live penguin living under the jetty on a nearby island.

One night her mother appears in her bedroom and takes her with her to Heaven World and shows Jodie what a lovely, beautiful light-filled place it is, and how happy she is being there, and that she is always watching over Jodie. She can’t wait to tell her father about seeing Mum, but he dismisses it as just a dream and walks away.

Jodie is angry and sails her boat out into the Harbour despite the storm warnings. She capsizes but manages to swim to shore and seek shelter in the derelict hall on the nearby island. A girl appears looking for her own mother, and Jodie realises it is the girl in the photo that she found, and Jodie tells her to go towards the light that is shining through the trees.

Her father finally rescues her and is distraught by the thought of losing her. He tells her he loves her and vows to be more open with her and talk about his feelings and their shared loss.

The rangers at Parks and Wildlife investigate the area and discover a new penguin colony living in the bay, and the plans for the lighthouse are shelved.

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