Friday, October 9, 2015

Australian kids through the years by Tania McCartney illustrated by Andrew Joyner

If you have been reading this blog you will know I very rarely discuss non fiction.   Today, though,  I simply have to talk about Australian Kids though the Years.

As a part of my job in a school library I read many, many books but if you were to look at percentages I read around 90% fiction.  With non fiction there are obvious features which make one text better than another.  We look for the usual library devices such as index, contents, captions, large photographs, accuracy, and information presented in a variety of ways especially visual.  We have thousands of non fiction books in our school library but only a handful really stand out in my opinion.

Australian Kids through the Years is a standout book!  It does not have an index or contents but this is not important. This is a book which can be used right across a Primary school. The youngest children can look at their parents and grandparents clothes, toys and hair.  Middle primary students could make timelines showing each theme and the oldest students could use the final illustrations list at the back of the book as part of a discussion about copyright. Older students could also compare the way information is presented in this book with more conventional timeline series such as Australia in the Twentieth century.  I would also pair this book up with My Place by Nadia Wheatley which is one of the very best books ever written about Australian history from the point of view of a child.

The design of Australian Kids through the years is chronological.  Beginning with First Children and then moving through time - 1800-1840s, 1850s, 1900-1909, 1910-1940s, 1950s, 1960s and so on up to 2000-today.

I love the way Tania McCartney resisted the need to present the dates in a pattern. Instead these dates match major events in Australian history such as the Gold Rush of 1850.

For each time period in this book we meet two children - a boy and a girl. On the next page we see all the "things in their world" such as clothes, food, hairstyles and my favourite part - the books they read.  This book has obviously been very carefully researched but all these facts are presented in such an appealing way.

The books are such a 'blast from the past' for me.  Here are a few (I have my own old copies of these books) :

1910-1940 Blinky Bill and Winnie the Pooh
1950s Charlotte's web and The cat in the hat
197s0 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
1980s Possum Magic

Here are the web sites for the author and illustrator.  I am once again going to predict that this book will be short listed for our CBCA awards 2016.  You might like to read this review.

I am including one page from the book and the photo page which appears at the end.  This is a book which should be part of every school library collection and every home library too.

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