July 09 When the Hipchicks Went to War

31 Oct

 New Novel

The first lines of Pamela Rushby’s When the Hipchicks Went to War, published 2009, reveal how the “chicklit” genre is utilised to contrast the naivety of a sixteen year old girl to the horror of war.

When I went to Vietnam, I packed a suitcase full of satin bikinis trimmed with fringes. A pair of knee-high white boots. Mini-dresses, ultra short, sparkling with spangles. A platinum-blonde wig. False eyelashes like hairy back caterpillars. Tap Shoes. Heaps of Max Factor make-up. I was sixteen years old, and I was going to a war. I didn’t have a clue.

Rushby researched the Vietnam War after reading Minefields and Miniskirts by Siobhan Mc Hugh. 

Some terrible things happened to some of the girls and some of them were so terrible that I didn’t use them in the book…You could go over just as a freelancer because Vietnam was never actually declared a war zone. You could just go over and wander around and do whatever you wanted to do.,23739,25644623-5012446,00.html

However, this story is of particular interest as it refers to the school.

For one thing, she said, she didn’t think the nuns would approve of a Senior girl go-go dancing on the side. p7

[Mother Maria Goretti] took off her glasses and looked at me…I felt like I was right back at school. I tried to pull my skirt down- reflex action – but it didn’t have a hope of covering my knees. And my knickers sure as hell didn’t match it. I’d only ever been in Mother Maria Goretti’s office before when I’d been in trouble, I thought. Usually, big trouble. Oh, well, what was so different now? p245

This fictionalised history is highly recommended for Year 9 upwards, especially Year 10 students who are currently studying war in English, and also for adults. This book may appear at first to be frivolous, but this technique is used very effectively to explore serious issues relating to war, but in a very accessible manner. More resources on the book can be found at

Cyberbullying has again been in the recent press with suicides at a Geelong school and other issues at another …girls’ school over the holidays. The most effective approach is to educate students in the appropriate use of communication technologies. Police have been encouraging schools to advise parents they can pursue legal action in bullying cases, and the same applies to teachers who consider themselves defamed by online comments. Bullying is not a new problem, and the inappropriate behaviour is the source of the problem, not the means of communication.  Please discuss appropriate online and phone behaviour with your daughter. Resources for parents can be found here

 The Somerset national novella writing competition Students under 19 years can enter an original novella (small novel) of 10,000-20,000 words. Entries are due December 4, 2009, 5pm. More details at  Entry is $20. There are state prizes but the National prize is $2650.

 Please see the attached flier about our combined reading event for Year 8 and 9 students and their parents on August 25.


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Posted by on October 31, 2009 in Uncategorized


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