Through My Eyes – Australian Disaster Zones
A & U Children’s, 2022
256pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99
It is 2019 and 13-year-old Mia lives on a bush block in the Pilbara, where she assists her mother’s work as a vet and equine therapist. Although she is used to the seasonal cyclones that threaten the West Australian coast, nothing can prepare her for the ferocity of Cyclone Veronica when she finds herself home alone and needing to protect their property and the animals she loves. She is used to cyclone build-ups, but the noise and energy of the wild rain squalls keep her awake half the night. What if the cyclone hits before Mum gets back? As wild winds batter the coast, Mia knows she must keep calm. The animals need her but when her friend Nick arrives, pleading for help, and her favourite horse is injured, will Mia be able to withstand the greatest challenge of her life? As the storm intensifies, can she save her beloved animals?
This is the latest in this series that offers fictionalised accounts of world events that help our older, independent readers not only understand what happened but allows them to process it. By giving each story a central character such as Lyla who endured the devastating Christchurch earthquake in 2011, the story becomes one of courage, resilience and hope rather than an historical recount with meaningless facts and figures. It offers the ‘colour and detail’ to the stark monochrome sketches of news reports, websites and other information-only sources.
Like its predecessors, Mia is a well-written, well-researched blend of imagination and information that above all, tells a story of one girl’s experience and shows that it is OK to be scared and fearful, but that natural human resilience can prevail. But because it will resonate with many in one way or another , if you have a system that places trigger warnings in your books, this may be one to consider. There could also be an argument that in this time of such extensive flooding and loss, this is not the time for such a book but it might be the vehicle that offers the light at the end of the tunnel for those enduring such hardship to strive for.
While we would all like to protect our kids from the disasters of modern times, natural or otherwise, that can be an impossible task as the world now comes to them in the palm of their hands, but stories like this can offer insight, understanding and a feeling that they too, can come through the other side – often shaped by it but also more resilient and courageous because of it.