Shearing Time by Allison Paterson and illustrated by Shane McGrath (Big Sky Publishing) HB RRP 24.99 PB RRP 14.99
Reviewed by Gill Griffin
Seen through the eyes of a child living in the country this tale perfectly captures the author’s happy childhood memories of working together with her family from sunrise to sunset on their annual task of sheep shearing. Despite the hard work she describes shearing as the best time of the year,
The wonderful descriptive prose and the colourful illustrations by Shane McGrath make each page resonate with the sound, and smell of shearing. The sheds rumble and racket whilst machines whir, while a large recalcitrant sheep eyeballs a very determined dog. The dogs hitch rides sitting on the back of sheep. The shearers crowd round the kitchen table and enjoy the home cooked food. The book is so alive with written and visual description that the reader feels part of the whole experience.
Shearing Time reflects the experience of rural children and provides an opportunity for early childhood readers to appreciate the lives of Australian country children and to gain a glimpse and understanding of the Australian farming experience. Inside the back cover the author describes many of the features of the shearing experience. I had no idea that sheep first arrived in Australia on January 26 1988 with the convicts, and were mainly raised for meat.
Allison Paterson grew up on a farm, surrounded by animals and the authenticity of her experience clearly shows. She uses this experience in her other book Granny’s Place and again compiling old family letters Anzac Sons: The Story of Five Brothers in the War to end all Wars which was listed for the 2016 Australian Book Industry Awards.