Beyond the Thicket
From the series: BOOKS FOR FUTURE SCIENTISTS.
Available from: www.macmillan.com.au
LIFE SCIENCE: GENETICS.
“Symes is not like anyone else at his school or even his village. When he is expelled for fighting, he begins an incredible journey to find out who he is and where he really belongs.”
Chapter 1.The Odd One Out.
“Sometime in the very far future when all our cities had vanished, a boy named Symes lived in a country called Myotrex. Symes’ parents had died from a mysterious illness shortly after they arrived in Myotrex, and with no other known relatives, Symes was sent to live in an orphanage. There, he slept, ate and studied beside 20 other children. But this was where any likeness between Symes and the other children ended. Where the other boys had black hair and eyes dark as berries, Symes’ hair was buttercup yellow, his eyes green as new grown grass. Where the others were small and willowy and graceful, he was tall and well muscled. And where the others were trained to perform the traditional Draddich, Symes was so clumsy, he could no more sing and dance than fly to one of the three moons that circled their planet.
However, Symes had skills that none of the other children could match. He could throw a ball with unerring accuracy. He could leap across the river that flowed between the Children’s House and the wild woods without wetting his feet. He could climb just about any tree that was solid enough to hold him. And where it took four boys to lift a moka – that traditionally Myutrex symbol of faith and loyalty – Symes was strong enough to lift this tall carving all by himself…’
WHAT INSPIRED THIS STORY?
‘Beyond the Thicket’ is intended as an interesting way of introducing primary school children to simple genetics. It opens with diagrams of a single cell, chromosomes, DNA, Mendel’s genetics, his discoveries and conclusions. Throughout the story are scientific explanations for what would otherwise be seen as pure fantasy.
I knew that there has been some decline in our school in teaching science, so when I was asked by the publisher to combine a story that children would enjoy with genetics, I accepted with alacrity. Thus the idea of combining fantasy with an acceptable dose of facts really appealed. I have always been interested in what makes me different from you, and how our genetic structure influences how we look and how we behave. Since writing this short novel, there has been much more research on identical twins and how much their genes influence their choices in life even when they have been separated from birth.