In the mid 1940s, when Elaine Russell was five, she moved with her family to La Perouse, just outside of Sydney. There her father, Clem built a shack from old tin and other salvaged materials. The Shack That Dad Built is author/illustrator Russell’s recollection of the time she and her family spent in the shack where they lived for the next five years.
The author recounts memories of her everyday life – sweeping and dampening the dirt floor, playing in the sand dunes, going fishing with her mother, as well as of more specific events like being visited by gypsies and missing out on a Christmas gift at a charity function. The memories are also portrayed in Russell’s bold yet simple illustrations which use bright blues, oranges, greens and yellows to recreate the scenes.
The story is further supported by a fact sheet at the back of the book outlining the history of the La Perouse area and its significance to the Aboriginal people, who have camped there for at least 7 500 years.
This is an informative tale which will interest children as private reading but which would also be an excellent classroom resource.
The Shack That Dad Built, by Elaine Russell
Little Hare, 2004