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Playing Beatie Bow facts for kids

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Playing Beatie Bow
Playing Beatie Bow cover.jpg
First edition
Author Ruth Park
Country Australia
Language English
Genre Children's novel
Publisher Thomas Nelson
Publication date
31 January 1980
Media type Print
Pages 196

Playing Beatie Bow is an Australian children's book written by Ruth Park and first published on 31 January 1980. It features a time slip in Sydney, Australia.

Plot summary

Lynette Kirk was a happy young girl, cheery about her parents and life, until the day her father leaves her and her mother Kathy for another woman. Lynette wants to distance herself from the life they shared with her father, so she changes her name to Abigail.

Lynette goes down to the park with her young next door neighbours Natalie and Vincent, finding them playing a game called 'Beatie Bow'. After becoming very interested in a little girl that stands there watching them play ("Little Furry Girl") she decides to follow her. When Abigail's mother admits that she has been seeing her father again and would like them all to move to Norway, where he works as an architect, Abigail is furious and goes for a walk to cool off, again encountering the mysterious girl. She follows her back into the 1800s and is tripped by the Little Furry Girl's father, resulting in a sprained ankle and a bruised head.

Further into the novel the character Granny (Alice Tallisker) tells Abigail that she is 'the stranger' and has 'the gift'. 'The gift' comes from a crocheted detail on her dress which enables her to travel and heal. The book later suggests that Granny will complete the crochet.

Abigail falls in love with Judah, who is betrothed to Dovey, and realises firsthand what it is like to love somebody but not be able to have them. This helps Abigail realise that she should not be selfish towards her parents and should let them have a second chance at life and marriage.

Abigail finally manages to return to her own time, and discovers that her neighbors Natalie and Vincent are the descendants of the Bow family. She also finds out that Beatie grew up to be a lady and well educated, and Judah dies at sea after marrying Dovey. After Abigail returns from Norway with her parents she meets Natalie and Vincent's uncle, who looks precisely the same as Judah. The two fall in love and Abigail tells him the story of how she went back in time.


The story concerns a 14-year-old girl named Abigail Kirk (formerly Lynette). While distraught over her parents' separation, she travels back in time as the result of a scary playground game. She finds herself involved with a shopkeeper's family in colonial Sydney-Town in the year 1873, where she meets Beatie Bow, a girl whose name appears in the game she was playing. Much of the book is set in real-life locations around Sydney's historical Rocks district.

Main characters

  • Abigail Kirk, formerly Lynette Kirk
In the present
  • Katherine "Kathy" Kirk
  • Weyland Kirk
  • Grandmother
  • Justine Crown
  • Natalie Crown
  • Vincent Crown
  • Robert Judah Bow
In 1873
  • Beatrice May "Beatie" Bow ("The little furry girl")
  • Alice Tallisker (Granny Tallisker)
  • Samuel Bow
  • Judah Bow
  • Dorcas "Dovey" Tallisker
  • Gilbert Samuel "Gibbie" Bow
  • Dorothea "Doll" Victoria Brand


Argyle Cut, The Rocks (3003576493)
Westward view along Argyle Street from Harrington Street towards Cambridge Street and the Cut, around 1900.
  • The Bows' confectionery shop is located on the corner of Argyle Street and Cambridge Street, immediately to the east of the Argyle Cut, see maps at Wikimedia geohack.
  • The fictional high rise tower "Mitchell", where the Kirks and the Crowns live, is located on George Street to the south of "The Suez Canal" (approximate location on map). In real life, the only high rise building in the Rocks is the Sirius building, located much further north. This was used for the film.
  • The Suez Canal, where Abigail was abducted, is located in between the Mitchell tower and the Cut (map). The name "Suez Canal" is said to have emerged as a pun on both "sewers", as the lane was one of the most disreputable places in the Rocks, and the Suez Canal in Egypt.


In 1986, the book was turned into a feature film also called Playing Beatie Bow. Made by the South Australian Film Corporation, it starred Imogen Annesley as Abigail, Peter Phelps as Judah Bow and Mouche Phillips as the title character Beatie Bow.

In 2021, the Sydney Theatre Company will be performing a play based on the book, by leading Australian playwright Kate Mulvany and artistic director Kip Williams, the duo responsible for the multi-award-winning 2018 stage adaptation of Park's book The Harp in the South.


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