Puffin Books, 2020
64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99
The great reading continues in the latest two in this wonderful series which features Aussie kids from a diverse range of backgrounds and settings celebrating something unique about their home state. So far we’ve met Zoe and Zac from NSW and Taj from a Victorian lighthouse; Eve from the outback of WA and Katie from a beautiful Queensland beach and now it’s time to meet Sam from the Northern Territory and Mia is South Australia.
Sam lives near the beach on the northern tip of the Northern Territory and, having saved his money to buy a new throw net, today he is going to use it for the first time because his cousin Peter is coming fishing too. They set off to catch the high tide and perhaps catch barramundi following the bait fish into the mouth of the mangrove creek. But Sam gets cross when Peter opens a bag of banana lollies because everyone knows that having bananas on a fishing trip is bad luck for real fishermen. But is there more to catching fish with a throw net than the choice of snack you have?
Meanwhile, Mia is in Victor Harbour in South Australia waiting for Jim, the son of her mother’s friend, to arrive so she can be a super tour guide, especially taking him on the horse-drawn tram ride to Granite Island. But can she carry out her plan without her big sister Alice taking over?
This really is an excellent series that not only introduces young, emerging readers to the diversity of this country and the children in it, but invites them to think about what is special about where they, themselves , live. With travel restrictions still in place, and lockdowns back in force in some places, this is the perfect time for children to get to know their immediate surroundings better and consider what it is that makes it such a special place. If they had a friend or relative coming to stay, what would be the unique things they could show them? Such a question opens up a range of writing and art activities that would be perfectly pitched to the child’s individual interests and abilities because each would have a different response. For those who want to take a different direction, they could start to examine the circumstances that led them to this place at this time, making connections with their past. There is a lesson guide available but just using the format of the book with its introductory postcard, identifying the points of interest (in whatever format) and adding some fun facts about something that is significant offers riches in itself.