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.
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.