Thursday, 30 January 2014

Burning the Bails – The Story of the Ashes

Burning the Bails – The Story of the Ashes by Krista Bell, illustrated by Ainsley Walters (One Day Hill)
PB RRP $19.99
ISBN 978-0-9873139-8-0
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Have you ever wondered about the story behind the Ashes trophy? This delightful picture book is a fictionalised account of the events leading up to the burning of the bails after a social game of cricket between the visiting England team and some of the local lads in Sunbury.

Burning the Bails is told from the point of view of six year old Russell Clarke whose father was Sir William Clarke, president of the Melbourne Cricket Club in 1882 when these events took place. Having a young perspective makes this historic tale easily understandable and accessible to young children and older alike.

There are many words to each page, but it is written wonderfully and in keeping with the era, and really nice to read: ‘Everyone was keen and that afternoon the oval resounded with much merriment.’

The illustrations are beautiful. Each page is a painted scene, not always sticking to the illustration side of the page, but sometimes slipping over a little as if to take over the words. Some of these paintings would look as much at home hung in an exhibition. They fit beautifully with the historic tone of the story.

In the back is a very informative run-down of all the facts which the author has drawn from to create this book. There are also photographs from the Clarke family’s collections reproduced in both the front and back.

Books like this one are a great way for children to learn about historical events. The role of Russell Clarke, the narrator, would be the sort of thing most young boys dream of. Burning the Bails is for lovers of cricket, lovers of Australian History, and lovers of good picture books everywhere.

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