Random House Australia, 2016
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
The latest in this excellent series of biographies for younger readers focuses on Don Bradman who is regarded by so many as Australia’s greatest cricketer – so much so that there was a question about him in the first version of the test that those aspiring to be Australian citizens have to answer.
Born in Cootamundra on August 27 1908, Bradman spent his early years practising his batting by hitting a golf ball with a cricket wicket against the family’s rainwater tank. As it bounced off the curves of the sides in all directions, he hit it again and again and again. (The noise must have driven those round him nuts!) At the age of 12 he went to Sydney with his dad to see an Ashes match and there the dream was born … one day he would play on that ground. By then, the family was living in Bowral, NSW and he was the scorer for the local senior team, sometimes even playing for them.
But when he turned 14 and left school he was too old for the school team and too young for the senior team so he turned to tennis instead. But cricket was his love and as soon as he was old enough he returned to it … continuing the journey that would make him a household name even for non-cricket loving people and have him named by the Wisden Cricketers Almanack (the cricketers bible) as the greatest cricketer of the 20th century.
This is the 10th title in this series which 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. Telling the story of an ordinary person whose story and legacy live on well after their death, each adds an extra layer to an historical study and the accompanying teachers’ notes open up new ideas for exploration. Each tells a story rather than just providing clumps of facts and figures, and is suitable for newly-independent readers as well as for those for whom English is a struggle. They also provide a model for younger students for writing a biography providing a purpose for reading and research and demonstrate a story of courage, persistence, resilience and perseverance showing the reader that these are the qualities needed for success.
The question about Bradman may have been replaced in the citizenship test but nevertheless, his name is one that is soon learned by every aspiring cricketer and one whose record they would love to emulate.