The Pencil Case Cover Image




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A hit on the head with a pencil case began Paul Wilson's lifelong battle against the system and the pencil-pushers who tormented him... but nothing could break his indominitable spirit.

Paul was a fifth generation, native-born white Australian, and a stolen child. Bureaucrats stole him twice. So-called ''women of God'' and a misguided carer stole his identity, his heritage and his self-respect.

Journey into the home and lives of a battling Aussie bush family and weep over cruel injustice that breaks a mother's heart and kills a father's soul. Witness child abuse and deprivation in an almost Dickensian world. Meet foster parents whose dedication and caring gives orphans and waifs hope for a future.

Follow Paul's struggle through adult life, sharing his and his family's pains and joys. Celebrate his triumphs. Mourn his foolishness. Admire his strength and courage as he fights continuing injustice, haunted by demons from the past and nursing an insatiable thirst for revenge.

A heartwarming story that illustrates the beauty and strength of the human spirit and the power of family love.


Story Background

"On February 13, 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologized to the so-called 'Stolen Generation'.

"He didn't apologize to me, or to thousands of other stolen Australians. He didn't apologize to my parents for the indescribable agony of being denied all knowledge of the whereabouts or well-being of their offspring.

I was stolen... TWICE. I am a white, native born, fifth-generation Australian."

These words moved Lorraine Cobcroft to write The Pencil Case: a slightly fictionalized biography of one of the thousands of white members of the 'Stolen Generation' of Australians whose existence historians and politicians have so callously denied.

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The Story

Inspired and strengthened by memories of his dad’s optimism and spirit, Paul Wilson survived abuse, deprivation and cruel family separation. Denied the freedom he craved, he is forced, at age 15, into lengthy military service.

Finally free, at 26, Paul returns home to find loving parents and eight siblings he had never known. But family reunion doesn’t end the suffering of a man whose loss of identity and belief in his self-worth makes life a constant struggle and who has become, by now, a prisoner of his own mind.

Share his joys and frustrations, celebrate his successes, mourn his foolishness and failures, and rail against the seemingly endless injustices he suffers as his life journey transforms him from a bitter, angry youth to a man who, despite prevailing cynicism, finally achieves a state of acceptance and peace.

This heart-wrenching story explores the deeper psychological effects of family separation and social injustice, and the extent to which compulsion to conform robs us of our true identity.

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Book Reviews




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Reader Comments,

I thought I'd limit myself to the first 50 pages, and evaluate your beginning, but I really wanted to keep reading--that's the first good comment! Your vivid descriptions led me into another world and time, and into a life-experience that is so very different from my own.

By the end of page 50 and with the last sentence about 'revenge', I had a good understanding of all the elements of the story and wanted to experience more. I say experience more rather than read more because I was transported by a very good story-teller. I am now about to jump into the next 100 pages.

Lisa Keuhlen, Reviewer for 10 Day Book Club

Your voice - or Paul's - is there, authentic and passionate. The despair comes through in every line and this is brought out by the beauty of your writing. Imagery is your strong point, no doubt about that. I felt as though I was standing in the scenes of childhood, watching over someone's shoulder and listening to every word.

Diana Hockely, author of "The Naked Room" and "The Celibate Mouse"

... loved it. (I) was mesmorised by was beautifully written.

Adrianne, Brisbane

Gripping! I couldn't put it down. I cried in the early chapters. I could see that poor little boy kicking the football around in that bleak playground, and it tore my heart out.

Christine H., Pottsville

I love the beginning of this work. The stark word "bullshit" is both jarring and intriguing, and reading the introduction, we know that this is to be a story of great pain and loss.

You do a magnificent job of portraying a family that belongs to the "working poor". You make us identify with them....we see their struggles, their conflicts, their love for each other, and the terrible cost of trying to keep body and soul together. This seems to be paralleled by your excellent description of the dryness and starkness of the land.

Sharon Lindenburger, Editor, Reviewer for 10 Day Book Club

Having had the privilege of reading the manuscript last year I recommend anyone who wants a good read to take this opportunity. It is a moving, poignant story that resonated with me on several levels. Having served in the Army at the very same place in the story I can attest to the authenticity of the events there and can only shake my head that this is based on a very true story.

Perry Gamsby, novelist

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