Life Choices in Captain Mack & Billy Mack’s War By James Roy

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Captain Mack and Billy Mack’s War by James Roy are both "heart warming and thought provoking" (Reading Time) insights into the tangles of childhood and early adolescence. Published by University of Queensland Press (UQP) in 1999 and 2004 respectively, both explore the theme of how choices define who we are and what we become. Both of these books explore unlikely friendships, with two central characters in completely different settings, they are intriguingly written in a mixture of narrative methods but are a relaxed and enjoyable read.

"James Roy was born an odd colour in Trundle Base Hospital [NSW] in 1968 and got to ride in an ambulance shortly after. Strangely he doesn’t remember the name of the driver." (Inside Cover – C.M.) He spent much of his childhood in missionary camps in Papua New Guinea and Fiji. This is where his love of literature began, he spent his days playing on the beaches and coral islands, but at night he would read books and dream of one day writing his own. Captain Mack is Roy’s third book and was short-listed for a Children’s Book Council of Australia (C.B.C.A.) Award. Billy Mack’s War is Roy’s seventh book, which he has written after many calls to complete the open-ended conclusion of Captain Mack. It has also won a C.B.C.A. honour award; "Roy’s well written story is full of insight and compassion without resort to sentimentality." (C.B.C.A.) James Roy’s style of writing is relaxed, succinct and subtle but thought provoking. He now lives with his family in the Blue Mountains and enjoys sailing, bushwalking and performing in his band ‘Cranky Franky.’ Roy draws on some of these varied life experiences to create the plots for his books.

"Captain Mack is an adventure about heroes and unlikely friendships" (Back Cover – C.M.) The book centres on 12-year-old Danny Snell who is bullied at school due to his crooked eye. He befriends an old man, known as Captain Mack, who thinks the nursing home in which he lives is a P.O.W. camp. Captain Mack is moved to a new nursing home, which he truly hates, he then calls on Danny to help him escape. Their friendship grows and there comes a time for Danny to make some tough decisions. Billy Mack’s War is the prequel to Captain Mack, Captain Mack is dead but his son William wants to meet Danny. This is William’s story; it takes Danny and the reader back to 1945 when William - then known as Billy - was a boy.

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