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Matthew Flinders – Adventures On Leaky Ships

Matthew Flinders – Adventures On Leaky Ships

Matthew Flinders – Adventures On Leaky Ships

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew Flinders – Adventures On Leaky Ships

Carole Wilkinson

Prue Pittock

Wild Dog, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781742034935

Imagine being so inspired by a book that you change your entire life’s plans and instead of becoming a doctor like your father and grandfather, you opt for a life of adventure on the high seas.  The young Matthew Flinders was so taken with Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe that he decided that a maritime life was the one for him so at the age of 16 he joined the British Royal Navy.

Although England was at war with the French in those days, and Flinders had a taste of conflict early on, Flinders was more interested in exploration and following the lead of his hero, Captain James Cook. The rest, as they say, is history.  From his meeting with surgeon George Bass on HMS Reliance on their way to New South Wales; their adventures in Tom Thumb; their discovery of Bass Strait; the eventual circumnavigation of the land he named Australia in Investigator and his ultimate imprisonment by the French on Mauritius accused of being a spy his achievements are all told in this easily read biography for young readers that offers an introduction to the courage and determination of another era as well as to the man who played such a significant role in the development of this country.

But beyond just offering a history lesson, it also opens up the opportunity for discussing what a comparable journey might look like today.  What are the great unknowns that wait to be explored in 2021 and who, at an age not much more than they are now, would have the courage to say goodbye to family, friends and comfort to pursue their dreams? If Flinders was inspired by Robinson Crusoe, which stories are those that inspire today’s youngsters so much so that lives are consciously changed because of them? Whose story would they like to be a part of?

The adventures and exploits of Matthew Flinders have been the subject of many books over the years and while our students should know of them, by putting them in Flinders’ shoes and connecting what he did to their lives is a most effective way to develop that sense of awe and appreciation that is often lacking around historical studies.

As well as the detailed maps and timeline included, teachers’ notes are available.

Little Lion A Long Way Home

Little Lion A Long Way Home

Little Lion A Long Way Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Lion –  A Long Way Home

Saroo Brierly

Bruce Whatley

Puffin, 2020

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780143795094

Born in Khandwa, India, in 1986 at the age of just 5, Saroo Brierley was separated from his brother at a train station and, not knowing his family name or where he was from, he managed to survive for weeks on the streets of Calcutta before finally being taken to an orphanage and eventually adopted by an Australian family. Even though he was happy growing up in Tasmania, he always wondered about his long-lost family and the story of his search for them has become an award-winning movie based on the adult version of his autobiography.

This incredible story of love, resilience and hope has been exquisitely illustrated by Bruce Whatley in a version for younger readers that will intrigue and inspire as they are touched by his need to discover his roots and what happened, particularly to his older brother whom he was with.  In its own way, it will be the story of many of the children in our care who have two families and who want to know and love both. They might not have the geographical journey that Saroo has to navigate, but  there is the emotional one they have to negotiate as they discover where and how they fit in.  There is the powerful realisation that it is possible to love and be loved by more than one, and that each significant relationship we form will influence our lives and characters.

It also opens up a window to the world beyond their own bubble so they begin to understand that not all children share the life they do, and that poverty and homelessness are real for Australian children as well as India and other countries.

Comprehensive teachers’ notes are available.

For those who want to read further, there is also the co-release of Lioness, by Sue Brierly, Saroo’s adoptive mother.

Little Lon

Little Lon

Little Lon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Lon

Andrew Kelly

Heather Potter & Mark Jackson

Wild Dog, 2020

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781742035970

In the heart of Melbourne is a narrow street running between Spring Street and Spencer Street known as Little Lonsdale Street. In an area originally built from gold rush money, “Little Lon” was a dark, dingy place hidden from the elegant homes, shops and hotels of the main streets surrounding it, but it was home to many, and even if they were poor and not so flash as their nearby neighbours, immigrants newly arrived and those down on their luck, it was a thriving, energetic place, a melting pot of cultures and customs and colours that made it unique.

In this exquisitely illustrated book, the reader is taken back in time to that time when families created lives very different to today’s, where the only place to play was on the street so kids made friends with everyone; where Saturday night was a dip at the local pool to wash away the weekday grime; and on Sundays you dropped your roast and veg into a shop on the way to church and it was cooked ready for you to collect on your way home!

Drawing on the memories of one of the children, Marie Hayes, Andrew Kelly shows the 2020 reader a different life in a different time where everyone was accepted for her they were and valued for what they added to the community.  

Children’s lives have not always been rush, rush, rush, screen-driven hives of activity and this will be a valuable addition to that collection that takes them back in time to discover how things have changed and to consider whether it is a time to envy. Extensive teachers’ notes are available.

Untwisted: The Story of My Life

Untwisted: The Story of My Life

Untwisted: The Story of My Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Untwisted: The Story of My Life

Paul Jennings

Allen & Unwin, 2020

336pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781760525828

When you give a story to someone else to read, it is like sending out your love. If it is rejected it is a horrible experience. It takes courage to reveal your own soul to just one person, let alone put it into print. You make yourself incredibly vulnerable.” 

But since 1983 when he was searching for a lighthouse in a stormy sea of a marriage breakdown, being a single dad to four children, and an uncertain professional future because of the change in his personal circumstances, Paul Jennings has been making himself vulnerable and to the harshest of critics – children. 

And since 1985 when his first short story collection Unreal was published, generations  of kids have been grateful that he has had the courage to show his vulnerability. He has shared 125 individual stories and sold 10 000 000 copies of them, changing the reading lives of hundreds of thousands of kids. And I, as a teacher and teacher librarian for 50 years have been privileged to see those changes and the impact they have had.

Forty odd years ago the children’s literature world was starting to change and while there were the established authors like Southall and Thiele (both heroes of Jennings) there was  no one like this person who offered short stories that could be read in a sitting that brought a world of kids’ humour and interests to life. No one who touched on “unmentionable” subjects in a way that challenged more conservative teachers to read them aloud when the kids demanded them and certainly no one had reluctant readers, mostly boys, demanding time to read, lining up at the library door to be the first to get the new release, talking about books and reading in a way they never had before.  But here, in my classrooms, it was happening – this former lecturer in Reading Education and Children with Special Needs put his professional knowledge to work, wittingly or not, and wrote the sorts of stories that these readers were craving (even if they didn’t know it because they had already written themselves off as readers.)

And perhaps, with this memoir that shows that Jennings was no silver-spoon kid, the reading journeys of another generation will take a new turn as they explore new ground.  This is not a book written for children specifically; it is not one of those that picks out the salient turning points in a life and condenses the achievements into a quick-read factual account but it is one about someone whom the children know and love; whose work they are directly familiar with and which may open up the world of autobiographies and biographies to them. 

There have already been many reviews and articles and so forth written by luminaries of the literary world about this book, its contents and quality, that I don’t need to add to them. Suffice to say that it is as engaging as his stories and that in the hands of an independent aficionado of even a young age, it could be a turning point. Jennings himself says that he believes his journey as a writer has been a journey about seeking love and acceptance starting as a six-year-old dressing as a pirate for the attention it afforded him, a journey that cast him as the “silly son” who finally returns home to discover himself because he has learned what is important. So, if him, then why not me? As he says, a real story is told, not plotted.