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Jason Chen and the Time Banana
Duncan Richardson

Jason Chen learns of a strange and powerful machine lurking in his neighbour’s backyard. Mrs Bryant is supposed to be weird, but she buys fish and chips from his parents’ café so he thinks she can’t be too bad. But Mrs B has a secret. And when she says she can’t succeed in her dangerous mission without him, Jason agrees to join her for a ride in her Time Banana.

They travel back to the 1860s, with the Great Fire of Brisbane looming. Knowing what they do about the Present, do they dare to tinker with the Past? It’s a thrilling adventure neither of them—or you—will forget…







ISBN 9781921479038 (PB)

ISBN 9781921869747 (eBk)

AUD $17
USD $15
NZD $19
GBP £11
EUR €13

Junior Novel

PB, 192pp

Download Free Teacher's Guide


Duncan Richardson

Duncan Richardson writes prose and poetry for children and adults.

His verse play The Grammar of Deception will be broadcast on ABC Radio National in 2008.

He lives in Brisbane where he conducts writing workshops.

Previous children’s books include Wennabees and Yum-worms and Revenge


I glanced back up the street. I couldn’t see any fire so my kidnappers must’ve been able to put it out. Which meant they could be after me any second. Which meant I had to get out of sight.

The closest doorway looked heavy and strong. I’d never make much sound on that. My arms were too skinny. I hurried on. The next one was lighter but also made of wood. It wouldn’t rattle.

I spotted a glint of light across the road and ran over. Yes! A sheet of that crinkly iron stuff. I kicked it hard, hurting my toes. Again, with the side of my foot, like passing in soccer. Whang!

“Help! Help!” I yelled.

“There he is, the yellow devil! Get ‘im!”

I turned. Giraffe and Shorty were charging down the street. In the dark, it was hard to tell how close they were. I bashed the iron with my shoulder and yelled out the only Chinese word I could think of.

“Chou! Chou!” I couldn’t remember what it meant.

Giraffe’s boots were pounding the dirt. I could almost smell Shorty’s bad breath. I kicked the iron and yelled, not sure whether to stay or run.

A strong hand grabbed my shoulder. It pulled me into a dark space beside the metal sheet. I’d been bashing on a wall. A wooden gate crashed shut. A chain clanked. One figure stood by the door. The hand on my shoulder didn’t let go. I sensed the man who owned the hand just behind me in the dark. I heard his breath about level with my ear. He spoke quickly and quietly in Chinese and two more figures came out of the shadows. Giraffe and Shorty were outside, cursing and swearing. One of them kicked the iron.

“Leave us alone,” said a voice from nearby. He had a strong accent. A bit like that boy from Taiwan in Grade Six, when he’d just arrived. “We don’t want trouble.”

“Well you’ve got it,” Giraffe grunted, “unless ya give us that little runt back.”

“What do you want with him?” said the Chinese voice.

“Mind ya own darn business,” said Giraffe. “Give ‘im back. He’s ours.”

The strong hand let go of my shoulder. My whole body went tight. I took a deep breath, thinking it could be my last ever. Whew! Strong stuff. Fish and fruit.

A match flared. Two hard brown eyes stared at me. He said something sharp in Chinese to the man by the door then shouted to Giraffe and Shorty. “No!” he said. “You go away. He is ours.”

[Read More on Google Books]


Download Free Teacher's Guide

to the illustrator Dave Charlton's website

eNews 39: Anna Bartlett's interview with Duncan Richardson about Jason Chen and the Time Banana


This is a well-written and compelling Junior/YA novel likely to appeal to children, particularly boys, who like adventure and have an interest in history. Its themes of racism and bigotry are as universal and relevant as ever, and are likely to resonate with Australian youth today, given the multi-cultural country we live in.
– Robyn Bavati


Young Jason Chen, a Chinese-Australian boy from Oxley in Brisbane, is intrigued like all his friends and neighbours by a ‘Big Banana’ in the backyard of a neighbour known as Mrs B. It turns out to be a time machine designed by her and her husband, which enabled them to go back to Brisbane in the 19th century. Her husband died in one of those trips into the past, but she now introduces Jason to the machine and call on his help. With his Chinese background, to go back with her to Brisbane of December 1864 to warn the residents, of Chinatown in the Albert Street area, led by her friends Ah Sing, of the fire which she knew from history was to occur.

Jason, a typical 21st Century schoolboy, finds Brisbane of 1864 quite an experience, and his adventures in the strange setting are well-conceived and old Brisbane is made to come to life. This would be a good read for young readers ages 8 to 12 which can help make the past more realistic in a novel manner.

– John D Adams, Reading Time