‘Pipe down, you two.’ Dad looked from one to the other. ‘There’ll be no television in this house. It’s one more thing for the rich. You can get what you need to know from the papers and the radio.’
‘Can we watch it down the street like everyone else?’ Jane pushed her seat back and started to stack the plates.
‘If you must,’ said Dad. ‘But don’t go getting any ideas.’
There are two big events happening in Melbourne – the arrival of television and the staging of the 1956 Olympics. Ray’s family don’t have a television and they haven’t got tickets to any Olympic events either, so it looks like he’ll miss out completely. But when he lies to the school bullies that his cousin is working for the television crew filming the games, he has to find a way to prove it.
Ray’s Olympics is a junior historical fiction title aimed at middle primary readers. As well as focussing on an important part of Australia’s history, it is a fun, easy to read story, engaging young readers in the period when television was broadcast in black and white and most families could not afford to own their own set.
Ray’s Olympics is part of the new Making Tracks series, where each author is allocated a specific exhibit from the National Museum’s collection. In this case, the item was the van used for the first ABC-TV broadcast in 1956, which is now housed at the National Museum.
This title, and the series of which it is part, provides a really accessible means for engaging young readers in important periods of Australia’s history, as well as being simply a good read.
Ray’s Olympics, by Libby Gleeson
National Museum of Australia Press, 2006