Reviewed by Dee White
As I was reading all four of these wonderful stories by Australian authors, I was reminded that the ability to laugh at ourselves, and rise up in the face of adversity is so much part of our culture – and has an important place in our literature.
All of these stories embody themes like friendship, finding a way out of difficult situations, loyalty and teamwork – each an integral part of the Australian way of life.
These Aussie School Books are relevant, easy to read and full of fun, and young readers will find them hard to put down.
Sailing in the Alice, by Kim Rackham,illustrated by Ben Hutchings
There’s a reason Mia’s family has carried a large empty cardboard box halfway across Australia.
They’re planning to turn it into a boat to race on the Todd River in Central Australia.
It takes Mia a while to get into the spirit of the race but eventually, she becomes just as excited about Soggy Sadie as the rest of her family.
In Sailing in the Alice, Mia learns that you don’t have to win a race in order to have fun.
Kim Rackham’s great characters and fun descriptions are bound to give young readers a ‘giggle attack’ similar to the ones that make Mia’s Aunt Sadie cry with laughter.
The action takes place in a uniquely Australian setting, and Ben Hutching’s illustrations help the reader feel as if they there on the banks of the Todd River.
Young readers will enjoy the humour and action of Sailing in the Alice, as well as its truly Australian flavour.
The Big Blowie,by Sally Murphy, illustrated by Craig Longmuir
Where else but Australia would a germ-spreading pest become the hero of a children’s story?
As Sally Murphy shows in her book, The Big Blowie, blow flies can be good for some things. If somebody doesn’t come up with an idea soon, the drought-stricken town of Lake Blowie is going to evaporate off the Tourist Map forever. That’s when ‘young Syd’ decides to tap into Australians’ love of all things big to create a stunning new attraction.
Everyone works together to get behind Sid’s great idea, and save their beloved town.
Sally Murphy’s colourful characters and their quirks give The Big Blowie humour and credibility.
The Big Blowie is for kids seeking a quick read that will amuse and entertain them from start to finish.
Emily’s Sheepdog,by Tracey Slater,illustrated by Phong Lam
A common thread in children’s books is to see the main character develop as a result of what happens to them in the story. Emily’s Sheepdog is a prime example of this.
Emily wants her very own dog for a pet, but on a farm, every animal has a job to do, and there’s no room for a dog that’s just a pet.
This doesn’t stop Emily. She uses all her ingenuity and imagination to acquire her very own sheepdog.
This clever story uses action, description and realistic dialogue to convey Emily’s plight.
Author Tracey Slater’s engaging story gives children an insight into rural Australian life.
Young readers will enjoy Phong Lam’s expressive illustrations, and the humour that Tracey injects into Emily’s Sheepdog.
Backyard Battles, by Trudie Trewin, illustrated by Craig Longmuir
What could be more Australian than a game of backyard cricket? Trudie Trewin uses this popular summer pass time as the setting for Backyard Battles, a story about working together as a team, and not judging people by first impressions.
When Lavender Street is challenged to a match by Snapdragon Street, it’s game on. Rivals, batsman extraordinaire Gazza, and super speedy bowler Sarah are forced to play on the same side to save the honour of their street.
Trudie Trewin has used clever dialogue and active language like, ‘bounced’, ‘stamped’ and whack to build up the tension in Backyard Battles.
As the two teams slog it out, Gazza and Sarah must work together to win their toughest cricket challenge yet, and in the process they develop a new respect for each other.
7-8 year old readers will enjoy this action packed story, and Craig Longmuir’s fun illustrations.
Published by Aussie School Books Pty Ltd
PB RRP $9.95 (ea)
Reviews by Dee White