A Nation of Swaggies and Diggers, by Jackie French

Australia was booming, buzzing, clacking – and there was a lot of moo-ing and baa-ing going on as well. The colonies at the end of the world had grown!

A Nation of Swaggies & Diggers is an informative book on the early days of Federation in Australia. It details the early time of the colony from the end of the first gold rush in 1880 through to the end of the first Great War, charting the hardships and difficulties faced by the swaggies, and the diggers, the impact the war had on the population and way of life, and the development of the country.

Whilst this is not the first book written on the subject, for children it is certainly the most accessible. French has a humorous yet honest style, which doesn’t gloss over serious events. The text is complemented by the cartoon style illustrations of Peter Sheehan, putting his own funny spin on events.

This is history which kids can enjoy, even while they are learning plenty about this important part of Australian history. It is the fifth instalment in an eight-part series covering Australian history from prehistoric times to the Centenary of Federation.

Nice stuff.

A Nation of Swaggies & Diggers, by Jackie French
Scholastic, 2008