Wild Dog, 2022
40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
About this time of the year excitement begins to ramp up as students anticipate their school excursion to the national capital, Canberra – perhaps even moreso as there is a federal election due and government, its purpose, politics and people become a curriculum focus. And so it is with the Mount Mayhem Primary School students, as readers are reunited with Farrel, Kira and Jack who introduced them to the mysteries of Australia’s preferential voting system in Vote 4 Me.
Written in a diary format, the class has been divided into three groups – the Menzies, the Gillards, and the Holts, names worth investigating in themselves – and each visits a number of Canberra’s attractions including
- The National Arboretum
- The National Museum of Australia
- The National Archives of Australia
- Government House
- The National Gallery of Australia
- The Royal Australian Mint
- The High Court
- The National Capital Exhibition
- National Election Education Centre
- Australian Parliament House
- Australian War Memorial
- Australian Institute of Sport
- Museum of Australian Democracy
- National Portrait Gallery
- National Library of Australia
- The Aboriginal Tent Embassy
- Mt Stromlo Observatory
Using Wilcox’s signature cartoon characters overlaid on to photographs of each location, this is a thumbnail tour of what to see in this city that makes it unique as the nation’s capital – having spent 30years living and teaching there, each was familiar so it became a trip down memory lane.
Thus the quiz at the end was rather easy but what wasn’t included is that under PACER, (Parliament and Civics Education Rebate) those students who come from more than 150km (calculated by road using the “most favourable” routes) can have their costs subsidised provided their visit includes an educational tour of Parliament House and where possible, an immersive learning program with the Parliamentary Education Office, the Museum of Australian Democracy, the National Electoral Education Centre at Old Parliament House, and the Australian War Memorial.
Any excursion sparks excitement as it is a break from the ordinary routine of things and IMO, those who come to Canberra should also include a trip to the top of Telstra Tower (although it is temporarily closed for refurbishment) or Mt Ainslie so the layout of this planned city with Walter Burley Griffin‘s vision of the National Triangle and the lake at its heart can be clearly seen.
Teachers beyond the realm of Canberra cannot be expected to know their way around this city nor the must-see destinations or even the fun recreational places like Commonwealth Park and other playgrounds (my favourite is Boundless Park in the centre built for all ages and abilities) on offer where kids can just romp and play so this book offers a valuable introduction so the itinerary can be planned so everyone gets the most from it. While there are teachers’ notes to accompany the book itself. hopefully the links in this review will add a little more to the physical experience.