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What could be worse, Matt Turner wonders, than having to leave your parents, friends and the buzz of big city life for a remote rural school that’s so small it only has two classrooms, and two teachers who are married to each other?

The twelve-year old soon finds out that worse things can happen. A school project plunges him into his worst nightmare – he has to make a speech in public.

Matt decides to speak about New Zealand’s First World War pacifist, Archibald Baxter.

But is that a good idea in a district where almost every family has lost someone to war?


‘Linda Hansen’s novel An Unexpected Hero is a mischievous, affectionate story of a very likeable, very credible young boy, who startles everyone, including himself, by what he proves himself able to do.’
David Hill, author of ‘My Brother’s War’, winner of both the Junior Fiction and the Children’s Choice Junior Fiction: NZ Post Awards, 2013 NZ

‘In An Unexpected Hero Linda Hansen cleverly exposes a hidden tale of wartime New Zealand exposed within a gripping contemporary story. Great reading!’
Ruth Paul, author/illustrator of many award-winning books including ‘The King’s Bubbles’ which won the NZ Post Children’s Choice Picture Book Award 2008

‘ ‘An Unexpected Hero is one of those books where you only have to read one page and you are hooked. The story is set in the present but the reader ends up knowing a great deal about what happened to so many New Zealanders one hundred years ago.’
Barbara Murison worked with children, people and books from 1950. Member New Zealand Association of Manuscript AssessorsL


Teacher’s resource

An Unexpected Hero @ NZReadAloud
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