Good Reading : November 2005
Young Murphy: a boy’s adventure Written by Gary Crew Illustrated by Mark Wilson I’ve been the No 1 Gary Crew fan since reading Strange Objects at least fifteen years ago. I love the way he weaves won- derful adventure sto- ries around historical facts, bringing life and excitement to our rich Australian history. I thought I knew the story of Leichhardt’s infa- mous ‘Expedition of Discovery’ from the Darling Downs in south-east Queensland to Port Essington in the Norther n Territory. But now I have seen it through the eyes of young John Murphy I am appalled at the incompetence and conceitedness of the leader and the ter rible suffering of his companions. After leaving Wales in 1841 and settling in Sydney, John Murphy joined Leichhardt’s expedition at the age of fifteen. Gary Crew tells his story in the form of letters to his par- ents. Each letter is cleverly preceded with a pertinent entry from Ludwig Leichhardt’s diary and each page is accompanied by beautifully drawn illustrations of the events and the plants and animals encountered. The older children who are lucky enough to read this book will find it easy to relate to a young man so close to their own age – a young man who survived against incredible odds and was, as the historian Alec Chisholm notes, ‘probably the most famous youth of his day’. ★★★★ Lothian Books $27.95 Age guide 10+ Patterns of Australia Written & illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft This most unusual book from the acclaimed indigenous artist Bronwyn Bancroft represents a series of vibrant, intricate patterns from many different Australian landscapes.The patterns include those of the sky, the bush, the desert, the rainforest and the ocean. Each pattern has two layers – the outer layer which is easily visible, then the inner layer hiding birds, plants, flowers and animals from that particular environment. Each pattern is accompanied by a short text conveying the artist’s feelings and listing the things you may find there. Bronwyn Bancroft is trying to help children – and adults – to see the Australian environment in a new way. As she says, ‘Some people can walk through the bush or the desert, or swim in the river or the ocean, and see nothing, while others see life all around them.’’ This would be a beautiful addition to a library, giving children the opportunity to see the life around them and maybe paint patterns of their own. ★★★★ Little Hare $24.95 Age guide 8+ Grumpy Gertie Written & illustrated by Sam Lloyd Gertie wakes up in a huge grump. She feels so bad that she decides to share her grumpiness with everyone. After making the sun, the flowers and the fish just as miserable as she is, she feels even more gloomy than before. But then a rather cheeky little monkey shows her that by swinging upside- down the way he does, her sad grumpy mouth becomes a smile. Gertie can’t wait to show the sun, the flowers and the fish just how easy it is to turn a grumpy face into a smiley one and of course while doing so she makes every- one else happy too. This book has extra-thick pages for the younger readers with Gertie’s grumpy smiley mouth die-cut through the entire book. So when Gertie meets the monkey the children then tur n the book upside-down and read the rest of the book from right to left. Such a feel-good story, guaranteed to change any bad mood into a happy one. ★★★ Twiglets $14.95 Age guide 2+ Gilbert Goes Outside Written by Colin Thompson Illustrated by Chris Mould Gilbert is like many other animals and a lot of peo- ple. He doesn’t like change.The lady he calls his mum has only to move a piece of furniture and Gilbert gets upset. So you can imagine his concern when his mum suggests he goes out into the garden – a frighten- ing unexplored territory for Gilbert! No wonder he hides under the bed in his favourite paper bag. But his mum puts him outside and shuts the door.That’s when matters go from bad to worse. By the time his mum rescues him he has sticky brown dirt between his toes, a tummy ache from eating a second- hand beefburger and a sore ear where next door’s horrible black cat has bitten him. But the final straw comes when his mum decides he needs to grow up and puts all his paper bags in the rubbish.The wonderful way Gilbert compensates for this drastic change makes a perfect ending to a perfectly enjoyable book. ★★★★★ Lothian $27.95 Age guide 4+ reviewed by Merle Morcom younger readers word of mouth WINNING WAYS In our July issue we held a com- petition for kids aged 8 or under to draw or paint their favourite character from any of John Burningham’s books. Twelve lucky children won a signed copy of one of his books. Here are two of the winning drawings. RIGHT: Kathrine from Clackline, WA drew Courtney and the Baby. FAR RIGHT: Wynona from Arcadia, NSW drew Shirley from Time to Get Out of the Bath, Shirley.
December January 2006