An Unexpected Hero by L.P. Hansen


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?

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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?

Why does Matt’s own name provoke an angry outburst from an old solider? Who starts sending him anonyous threatening leatters? What has made his new friends begin to ignore him? To top it all off, Matt’s childhood stammer recurs as well.

Support arrives in unexpected ways: from his grandparents’ watchful herd of cows, from a girl named Susan and indirectly, from Archie himself. But is it enough to get him through his challenges and what will happen in the future?

Comprehensive Teachers’ Resource Kit available which covers Levels 3 and 4 of The New Zealand Curriculum. Free download from – also available to parents.

Praise for An Unexpected Hero:

“Linda Hansen’s novel is a mischievous, affectionate story of a very likable, very credible young boy, who startles everyone, including himself, by what he proves himself able to do. There’s tension, trouble and triumph, all authentically rendered. Young readers will know people just like Matt, will recognise his world and his problems, and will delight in the success of this genuinely unlikely hero.”
David Hill: author of ‘My Brother’s War’.

“Linda Hansen cleverly exposes a hidden tale of wartime New Zealand within a gripping contemporary story. Great reading!”
Ruth Paul: author/illustrator.


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