Author(s): Patricia Wrightson
Andy Hoddel was different from other boys. He never really understood the game they played, in which they 'owned' the factories, the library and the police station in their town, but he longed to tell them he owned something too. Then he met an old tramp and paid him three dollars for Beecham Park Racecourse. When Andy's friends find out they are horrified. Andy would have to be told he'd been taken for a ride - but how could they tell him without breaking his heart, especially when all the staff at the racecourse were calling him the 'owner'? How could anyone take away his racecourse?
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Patricia Wrightson, one of Australia's most eminent writers for children and teenagers, was part of the vanguard that established our literature for children: not only in Australia but around the world. She was born at Bangalow, near Lismore on the New South Wales north coast, in 1921 and grew up between the two world wars, developing a spiritual connection to the landscape around her that later informed all her writing. During World War II she worked in a munitions factory in Sydney-the city that would provide the setting for one of her most popular books, I Own the Racecourse!-married and had two children. But the union did not last and Wrightson moved back to northern New South Wales, where she worked as a hospital administrator. There she began to write, and later became the editor of the NSW School Magazine. Wrightson's first novel, The Crooked Snake, was named the Book of the Year by the Children's Book Council of Australia, and she went on to receive the highest national and international honours for her writing: the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the Dromkeen Children's Literature Foundation Medal, a further three Children's Book Council Book of the Year awards and an Order of the British Empire for her most famous work, The Nargun and the Stars, among others. In 1988 the New South Wales Premier named a prize in her honour. Patricia Wrightson died in 2010, aged eighty-eight, having written more than twenty-five books and inspired countless authors.