Orphan boy gets shipped to Oz after his parents are killed in the war. He leaves with a key thread through with string given to him by his big sister Kittie. He meets a variety of cruel, sad, strange, gentle and hearty individuals who shape his life and move the story full circle until he has a daughter of his own and she decides to return to England and find out the truth about Kittie. Not a sniff of sentimentality and some pretty harsh things get thrown at the characters; abuse, snake bites, 30 foot waves to name but a few.
A very memorable read. I don't care if it's written for kids, he's a very accomplished writer, grounded in social realism and well worth the effort.