Archive | June 3, 2015

Meet…Banjo Paterson

Meet... Banjo Paterson

Meet… Banjo Paterson








Meet… Banjo Paterson

Kristin Weidenbach

James Gulliver Hancock

Random House, 2015

Hbk., 32pp., RRP $A24.95



I currently have a display in the library based on “A Poem in Your Pocket Day” which includes teachers sharing their favourite poems for the students to illustrate.  When I asked the teachers to share their favourites, I was surprised to find how many had selected a poem by Australia’s most iconic poet, A. B (Banjo) Paterson.  That this book, the latest in the Meet… series, then arrived for review was totally serendipitous.

While most children know of Banjo Paterson’s works, at the very least through learning the words of Waltzing Matilda, not much is known of his life generally and the things that shaped him and made him such a devotee of the life of ordinary Australians.  So this journey through his life told by Kristin Weidenbach and accompanied by the detailed artwork of James Gulliver Hancock is an important addition to any library collection.  With snippets from his poems like Clancy of the Overflow illustrating his life and yearning to be away from “foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city” we are connected to his life and his writing and understand their beauty and power that meant they were loved by the ordinary person who, in those days, would not normally read anything let alone poetry.  Just as he wrote in The Man from Snowy River that the ride would be talked about everywhere and always, so Paterson’s poems spread throughout the bush so that they are now part of the Australian psyche.

The Meet…series is a must-have in school libraries as it brings the lives of our heroes and history-makers to life through accessible, illustrated texts in a way that brings the biography genre to life.  They add an extra layer to an historical study and the accompanying teachers’ notes open up new ideas for exploration.  Because Paterson was writing during World War I, and although too old to enlist he drove an ambulance in France and was in charge of the Australian Remount Squadron in the Middle East,  this could be a timely opportunity to introduce his works to students.  We’re All Australians Now would be an ideal starting point. Teaching notes are available.

An Armadillo in Paris

An Armadillo in Paris

An Armadillo in Paris










An Armadillo in Paris

Julie Kraulis

Tundra Books, 2014

hbk., 32pp., RRP $A29.99


Arlo the armadillo from Brazil is always up for an adventure – a love he inherited from his grandfather Augustus who wrote a series of journals about his favourite destinations so that one day Arlo could see them for himself.  On this, his first adventure, Arlo is off to Paris to explore its art, history and life and the mysterious La Dame de Fer –the Iron Lady- whom he might get to meet if he follows his grandfather’s instructions.

Written in two strands – the first the journal entry of Augustus and the second the narrator’s description of what he sees and does, the reader is taken on a journey through the iconic sights of Paris beginning with the mad traffic circle whirling around the base of the Arc de Triomphe, eating flaky croissants at a traditional French café and on to meeting the Iron Lady.  Who could she be? Throughout the journal entries, Augustus provides information and clues about this enigmatic figure until finally she is revealed.

Beautifully illustrated with a delicate palette this is an intriguing book which straddles the faction -fiction and fact- genre perfectly, entertaining and educating at the same time. It will introduce a fascinating city to new travellers and bring back memories for those who have had the pleasure of visiting.  The inside of the dust cover is an imaginative use of what is usually blank space and there are snippets of extra information about the Iron Lady at the end.  It has broad appeal – there is the cuteness of an armadillo having an adventure and solving the mystery of the Iron Lady for the younger readers while there is an introduction to Paris and its culture for the more advanced reader.  So much more interesting than some of the strictly factual books we ask our students to learn from.