Our Australia Alice Springs, by Phil Kettle

Hi there, I’m Taha!
Australia is a long way from Greece, where my mother was born. But on the 26th of January this year, my mum became an Australian citizen.
That’s what Mum said when she showed me her Australian Citizenship Certificate. And then Mum had a great idea. She decided that we needed to explore OUR AUSTRALIA together.

Taha and his Greek-born-but-new-Australian-citizen Mum are on a trip around Australia in their camper van, the Southern Cross. In this instalment of the “Our Australia” series, they drive from Longreach to Alice Springs. It’s a long drive so they stop overnight in Boulia, a town that changes completely when there has been rain. Then in Alice Springs they learn about the Todd River, indigenous and non-indigenous culture and history. Then they’re off to Uluru and surrounds to experience all the wonders of the outback. ‘Our Australia Alice Springs’ is full of drawings, photos and text types. Taha carries an ‘Oracle Pod’ which provides answers to any question. Taha tells his story via letter, email, lists and the ‘Oracle Pod’ information bites.

Our Australia Alice Springs provides information for readers in a variety of formats. The main narrative is Taha and his mother’s fictional journey, but it’s set in a factual landscape and includes elements of geography, history and culture. This is a new series from Australian Geographic designed to engage younger readers. Like the magazine, Our Australia Alice Springs is full of photos, but there are also drawings putting Taha and Mum in the landscape. Information comes from local experts like the policeman, the tourist information centre and local indigenous guides. Shaped like a novel, this series may well attract boys particularly who prefer non fiction but who have outgrown the picture book format. Recommended for mid primary readers.

Our Australia Alice Springs, Phil Kettle, ill David Duncan
Australian Geographic Education 2010
ISBN: 9780980713336

Reviewed by Claire Saxby Children’s book author.