Thursday, September 10, 2009

Colin Thiele

Colin Thiele wrote Storm Boy. That's about all I know.

Storm Boy was recommended to me by a few people...or maybe one person. I forget.

It didn't really look like my type of thing, but I decided to give it a go. I felt annoyingly obligated to like it.

Guess what.

I liked it.

It's a beautiful book.

It's sad though.

I read it at a time when I was losing a lot of faith in humanity. The book kind of confirmed the feelings I had were valid. But there are also very decent people in the book, so it's hopeful rather than depressing.

I don't remember the exact details, but for at least part of the book, Storm Boy is homeschooled. I think he's pretty much unschooled, actually. Instead of sitting in a classroom and learning that way, he learns by immersing himself in nature and talking to adults.

Anyway, I guess I shall start my research.

Lord Wiki says baby Colin was born on 16 November 1920. He'd be a Scorpio.

The birthday website says he's a 3 in numerology.

3 Scorpio....that's quite a combination. The 3 is social. The Scorpio stings. They're all dark and mysterious.

Baby Colin was born in Eudunda South Australia. The town is about an hour north-east of Adelaide. It seems its claim to fame is Colin Thiele himself. There's a statue of him in some garden place.

Lord Wiki says that the Thiele family was Barossa German. Barossa....isn't that Geoffrey Rush's pirate name?

Nope. But close! The pirate name is Barbossa. You just have to add a B in there.

I need to read about this Barossa thing.

Lord Wiki says it's a dialect of German that's common in South Australia. That's pretty cool. Maybe it's kind of like Yiddish. Yiddish is a Jewish dialect of German.

There were a lot of Germans in South Australia...specifically in the Barossa Valley area. Barossa Valley is known for their wine. It's also a good place to get German food.  Well, obviously.

When Thiele was a child he spoke only German. He didn't learn English until he went to school. Lord Wiki says Thiele went to several schools. One of them was Kapunda High School. It looks like the school was once owned by Sidney Kidman....or at least the building was.

Thiele attended the University of Adelaide.

He fought in World War II.

After all that, he did some teaching.

He has written over a hundred books. Wow.

I'll look at his books in a minute. It seems Lord Wiki has a whole separate entry on them.

Starting from 1955, Thiele had very bad arthritis. He would have been only about thirty-five then. But yeah...I know some people get it when they're young.

In his later years, Thiele moved to Queensland. He lived in Dayboro. I'm going to find it on Google Maps....

It's about an hour north-west of Brisbane.

Thiele died on 4 September 2006. That's a day after my mom's birthday. He had a wife, two children, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. It sounds like he was very blessed--successful career and he lived long enough to see his great-grandchild.

Okay. Now I'm going to look at his books.

Lord Wiki has a huge list. I'm going to look at only a few.

His first children's book was published in 1969. That was called Yellow Jacket Jock. I guess then most of his writing fame occurred in his later years. Yellow Jacket Jock is about a child who lives near a dangerous river. Because of this, he has to wear a life jacket.

Crap. I got it wrong. I thought the books were listed by the year they were published. They're not. It's alphabetical. I have to look closer to see which was published first.

The first book was actually Sun on the Stubble. This was published in 1961. In 1996, it was turned into a miniseries. The plot sounds autobiographical. It's about a German child living in South Australia.

I'm going to see if I can find another website; one that will list the books in chronological order. I prefer that.

Oh, forget it. I can't find any list I like.

I'll go back to Lord Wiki.

It looks like Storm Boy was the next book. It came out in 1963. A movie adaptation came out in 1976.

An actor named Greg Rowe played Storm Boy. From his filmography, it looks like he later starred in other adaptations of Thiele's work.

The movie won the AFI award for best film. That's pretty impressive.

Here's a scene from the movie. I would love that life. I'd love to take our homeschooling lifestyle to the beach. I mean homeschooling in the suburbs is great, but a beach setting would be so much better.

Here's a where are they now video thing about the kid in Storm Boy. Rowe has children of his own now. He lives in Canada. When he went to Australia, he brought DVD's home of his movies. He showed them to his kids. That's cute.

I think I'll ignore the publishing dates now, and instead just look at the titles that spark my interest.

He did an Australian Mother Goose book. It looks beautiful.

There's Blue Fin. That was the other Thiele movie that Greg Rowe starred in. The movie came out two years after Storm Boy. It's about a boy who is not good at sport. It seems his father doesn't much approve of him. Then they all go on a boat together. Disaster strikes!

I've decided to do something else. I'm very unsettled here. Can you tell? It's a pain looking through Lord Wiki because some of the books have become so rare. It's hard to find any information about them.

SO...instead I'm going to look at Gleebooks website. They have a list of his books; ones they have available. I prefer to know more about the books he wrote that are more popular, not-out-of -print, available, etc.

I also want to look at as well...see which of his books are available in America.

Crap again. Gleebooks doesn't really provide much information about the books either.

Why am I having so much trouble?

Forgot looking at a list of books. I give up.

I'm going to look at this Colin Thiele website instead. They're selling Thiele's final picture books on the site. They're about bilbies. Cool. I like bilbies.

This page of the site has photos and information about the garden statue of Thiele. It's really lovely. I'd probably cry if I saw it in person. It would get me all emotional. It has a pelican in it. For those who are Storm Boy virgins, pelicans play a big part in the story.

The University of South Australia has some stuff I can look at.

They provide a biography.

Thiele's paternal grandfather migrated from Germany. I wonder if his maternal grandparents were German as well. I wonder how integrated the family was. Did the grandparents and parents never learn English, or did they just choose to speak German at home with their child?

After he finished with the University of Adelaide, he also did some learning at the Adelaide Teacher's College. Then when he returned from the war, he did some more teacher preparation.

From 1946 until 1955, he taught English at Port Lincoln on the Erye Peninsula.

I'm going to look at Google Maps. Well, I see it, but it's hard to explain. I think South Australia has three peninsula's. Adelaide is on the right one. Port Lincoln is on the left one. Then there's another one in the middle.

Fish is a big industry in Port Lincoln.

The season of Survivor set in Australia were filmed near Port Lincoln. I think I actually watched that season...or some of it. I got really into it, and had a hard time deciding whether to watch that or Charmed. We didn't have a DVR at the time, so I had to make very difficult choices.

Oh, never mind. This Port Lincoln Survivor is way different from the one I saw. I saw the American show filmed in Australia. The Port Lincoln show was an Australian version of the show. The one I watched was in Northern Queensland.

See though...there was a time I liked reality TV.  I also watched some of the Real World. Then I lost my love for all that stuff.

Oh yeah. Back to Thiele....

From 1957 until 1963, he taught English at Wattle Park Teacher's College. Lord Wiki says Wattle Park is a suburb in Adelaide.

In 1964, he became vice-principal. A year later he became principal.

We probably don't need to know the exact details of his whole education career. I'll just say he did teaching until 1980. Then he retired. He would have been about sixty then. I wonder if he stayed that long in the job because he loved it, or was he not making enough from his books? I would imagine he'd make enough money writing. I could be wrong though.

It was in 2000 that he moved to Queensland. He was there for the last six years of his life. I wonder if he liked it. Did he adjust to it well, or did he miss South Australia?

IMDb says there were two other movies made from Thiele's books. The Fire in the Stone is about a boy searching for an opal thief. The movie was directed by Gary Conway who has directed episodes of various popular Australian TV shows...Neighbours, Prisoner, Flying Doctors, Country Practice, etc.

I'm not sure if the other movie (Gotcha) was based on a book, or if Thiele wrote the story for the film. It's a short film; only twenty-four minutes.

This site describes the plot of some of Thiele's books.

February Dragon is about a bushfire in New South Wales. Well, no. This other site says it takes place between Melbourne and Adelaide. I believe that more since Thiele is from South Australia.

February. Do most bushfires happen in February? Tim and I have been talking about NOT going back to Australia during a February. I'm a little nervous about going during a bushfire again...especially if we plan to be in Victoria. I know you can't predict these things, but if it's more common in certain areas at certain times.....I'd rather plan accordingly.

The Hammerhead Light is about a young girl who is friends with a lighthouse keeper. That sounds good. I bet I'd like it.

Seashores and Shadows is about the hunt for a shark. I'm sure I'd love that. I like shark stuff.

This South Australia website has some information on Thiele.

Thiele was the fourth of five children.

Thiele's ancestors were some of the first German migrants to South Australia. It sounds like there might have been three brothers....Samuel, William, and Johann Christian Thiele. I'm guessing they would have come in the mid 1800's. For the goldrush maybe? Was there gold in South Australia?

Here. This website has information about gold in South Australia. Actually, it happens to be the same South Australia site....just a different page. I googled and ended up at the same site.

The site says that gold wasn't as big in South Australia as it was in Victoria. But there WAS some gold there. The main gold years were in the 1890's. This was decades after the goldrush in Victoria. I'm not going to read the whole article. I'm lazy. But from what I see, people did LOOK for gold in earlier decades. I guess they didn't have much luck though. But the Thiele ancestors could have come looking for gold. Maybe? I do wonder why they left Germany. Was something bad going on around then?

The grandfather came in 1855. What was happening in Germany then?

Well, there was a war from 1848 until 1852. I'm not sure if that would have created a wave of German immigrants.

Okay. Cool. This website here has a whole history of Germans in Australia.

Most German emigrants came to America, but some others went to Australia.

In the 183o's and 1840's many Germans left the homeland because of religious persecution. But the site says this didn't happen much after that. It probably didn't apply to Grandpa Thiele then.

Some migrated because of economic situations.

In 1848, there was some kind of revolution. Many Germans left then.

Well, I guess I'll just have to keep guessing.

Wait no. I think I got the answer. The German Australia site says that it was Lutherans who came in droves to South Australia. Thiele was Lutheran and from South Australia. I'm guessing his family was in that group. Plus, I misread the German website. I thought they said religious-type fleeing ended in the 1840's. What they really said is that it stopped being the LEADING cause.

I was just googling some more, and learned Thiele died on the exact same day as Steve Irwin. I'm guessing Irwin's death overshadowed Thiele's death.

Anyway, I think I'm going to end this here.....


  1. Might have been me that mentioned Storm Boy to you, I love that book :)

    Did you know there's a movie in production of John Marsden's Tomorrow, When the War Began? The actress being cast as Ellie has just been announced:

  2. Mimbles,

    Yeah. It might have been you.

    I didn't know about the movie. That young actress totally does NOT look like how I pictured Ellie. I mean not that I pictured Ellie. I never really have images of people when I read. But when I see the character in a movie, I can feel/know whether that's how I might have imagined them. I'm not saying this right. Sorry.

  3. I know exactly what you mean, I said something just like it on twitter this afternoon when discussing the casting. I don't have mental images of characters when reading either.

    We decided she looked like she'd make a good Fi, but was not at all the Ellie of our imaginations.

  4. Mimbles,

    I'm glad you were able to figure out what I was talking about!

    Maybe the make-up people will help her to look more like Ellie. I don't know.

    My memories of Fi are very vague. But yeah. She probably looks more like how I'd imagine that character.

  5. The Sun on the Stubble is a great book. I have kept my copy, even though it is a kid's book really. The pelican that featured in the movie Storm Boy only died last week, at Adelaide Zoo I think.

  6. Andrew,

    I have a lot of kids books...and no, they're not all for Jack.

    Sad about the pelican.