ESCAPE BY DELUGE by Edel Wignell


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Emulating her eminent compatriot Patricia Wrightson, Wignell weaves aboriginal lore into a story about modern Australians--in this case, a young swimmer who encounters a ""bunyip"" (a wicked, child-devouring water spirit) during the historic Melbourne flood of 1972. Shelley, 12, is avidly following the career of swimmer Shane Gould, soon to be an Olympic medalist, while hoping to follow her in 1976. But several days before the impending flood, Shelley begins to be haunted by a presence that invades her treasured training time: it imposes its own style and destroys her sleep by summoning her to the apartment building's basement each night. Gradually, with the help of some library research into both folklore and local engineering, Shelley concludes that a bunyip has been trapped in the sewers beneath her street. On the day of the flood, she opens a manhole, allowing the bunyip to escape. Though this lacks Wrightson's soaring imaginative power, it's competently written and neatly interweaves its authentic setting with folklore, ecological concern, and a crisp portrait of Shelley and her busy family. American readers may find it a bit overextended by local detail, but should be entertained nonetheless by this unusual haunting and its dramatic resolution.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1990
Page count: 145pp
Publisher: Holiday House