Rotters and Squatters, by Jackie French

Cannibal convicts, murdering squatters, sea captains who kidnapped their crew, poor farmers forced off their land – they had all come to the colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land to make better lives for themselves.

Rotters and Squatters is a wonderful look at the colonial days in Australia, charting the hardships and difficulties faced by the settlers, the impact their arrival had on the Aboriginal way of life and population, and the development of the colonies. It details the early time of the colony from two tiny colonies at the end of the world in 1820 through to 1850.

It is the third installment in an eight-part series covering Australian history from prehistoric times to the Centenary of Federation. This is history which kids can enjoy, even while they are learning plenty about this important part of Australian history.

Whilst this is not the first book written on the subject, for children it is certainly the most accessible. The cartoon style illustrations of Peter Sheehan, putting his own funny spin on events, compliments French’s humorous yet honest style doesn’t gloss over serious events.

Good stuff.

Rotters and Squatters, by Jackie French, illustrated by Peter Sheehan
Scholastic Press, 2007