This story brings to life one of the most important voyages of history, the sailing of the First Fleet, under Captain Phillip, to Botany Bay. With John and his sister, Sue, we share the excitements and hopes of the long sea-way, the sights and sounds of strange ports, the adventures of a little family following Papa, an officer of the Marines, to the then-unknown end of the earth. John gets into many a scrape with his dog, Gyp; he goes on exploring expeditions with Captain Phillip; he sees the ‘hopping animal’ of which he has heard so much, and manages to be in the midst of everything interesting as any boy would. The story is skillfully woven of true facts and incidents which might have happened to a boy lucky enough to sail as John sailed with Captain Arthur Phillip.
After reading the manuscript of John of the’Sirius’, Kylie Tennant, the well-known Australian novelist, wrote: “Doris Chadwick has a sure taste for all the little details that children of today want to know about the children of other times. Miss Chadwick studied all the documents and old manuscripts abot1t the First Fleet until she knew exactly what happened every day of the long voyage. And against this background of fact her characters–John, Sue and all the personalities of the Sirius, from Captain Arthur Phillip to the cook, emerge as living people.
This is a story rich in detail, written in a style easy to read, exciting, swift-moving. It combines sound scholarship with a vivid understanding of a child’s taste and joys.