Avoid Being a Convict Sent to Australia, by Meredith Costain

It’s 1875 and you’re the son of a farm labourer in England…You hear there is plenty of work available in the new factories opening up in London, so you move there in search of a better life. You have no idea that in a few months’ time, this move will eventually take you to the other end of the earth.

Avoid Being a Convict Sent to Australia is a wonderful nonfiction offering which will appeal to primary aged children. What sets it apart from other books about convicts is that it speaks directly to the child, using the second person ‘you’. As you read the book, the things that happened to the convicts are now happening to you. You are arrested, imprisoned and sent to Australia, where your new life as a convict is pretty hard. The reader is subjected to all sorts of hardships, with the second person narration making it personal.

The use of bright cartoon-style drawings and other humorous elements such as handy hints (for example, convicts are told to hope that the King is in a good mood on the day of your trial!) make the book fun to read at the same time as being informative, with plenty of facts and examples, a back of book glossary and more.

This is an excellent educational offering, suitable for home or school.

Avoid Being a Convict Sent to Australia! (Danger Zone S.)

The Danger Zone: Avoid Being a Convict Sent to Australia, by Meredith Costain, illustrated by David Antram
Koala Books, 2005

This book is available online at Fishpond.

Doodledum Dancing, by Meredith Costain and Pamela Allen

I’m rocking, I’m reeling
I’m whirligig wheeling
Tip-tapping my toesies
And singing this song.

The poems in this delightful collection will have adults and children alike tip-tapping their toesies and clapping and rocking along – though some may want to draw the line at sim-somersaulting as they read – it could be risky.

The eighteen poems in Doodledum Dancing are very easy to read because they move along at a glorious pace and are both fun and funny. Youngsters will love the rhythm and movement, but they will be equally captivated by Costain’s wonderful use of language – words such as those in Loose Tooth:

A wibbly wobbly
Angly dangly
Wiggly waggly
Loose tooth.

make for fun reading and plenty of giggling.

Also giggle-inducing are the illustrations by Pamela Allen, bringing each poem to life with simple yet rich images which capture the movement of the poems perfectly.

This is an exuberant offering which parents will love reading to their preschoolers, and older children will enjoy reading by themselves. It is also perfect for classroom use.

DoodledumDancing, by Meredith Costain and Pamela Allen
Penguin Australia, 2006