Thursday 12 November 2015

Australian Kids through the Years

Australian Kids through the Years by Tania McCartney, illustrated by Andrew Joyner (National Library of Australia)
HC RRP $24.99
ISBN 9780642278593

Reviewed By Anastasia Gonis

This impeccably constructed book by Tania McCartney and Andrew Joyner celebrates the cultural diversity of Australia. It focuses on Australian children through the years as it educates and informs readers about the shifting and evolving periods of Australian history. It starts from the 1800s and ends at 2000 and beyond.

The layout of the book follows a pattern. Two children are introduced in each era. They then appear in a double spread that reveals them in their daily environment. We progressively learn about the children’s life and living conditions, the food they eat, the way they dress, what they play, their educational opportunities and later what they are reading.

Indigenous Australians are first in the book.  Their relationship to the land, and the reverence they hold for it is of paramount importance to their life.

Mid 1800s and brings the convict era. Children work hard and schooling is rare. It is followed by the Gold Rush which brings the Chinese to the Goldfields. Tents house the gold diggers and their families. The dress code has changed slightly and Hotels begin to appear. Thousands of Irish immigrants make Australia their home.  Most children are now getting an education and living conditions have improved significantly.

Pre and post War life is addressed. An increase in migration and decimal currency are stamped on Australia’s history. Big hair and bright clothes, Ninja turtles and Atari herald great changes and shifts in the life of children. This prepares them for the electronic age. And the rest is history.

This book for the 5-8 years age range is a valuable asset for schools, libraries, and tourist facilities as are most of Tania McCartney’s recent books. Andrew Joyner’s fantastic illustrations complement the text perfectly, bringing to life the past and how children’s lives changed significantly for the better with the passing of time. The excellent end papers reflect the contents as do the magnificent covers in vibrant colour.

As usual, the NLA has played a large part in this beautiful production. Black and white photos from the archives enhance the List of Illustrations from the National Library that appear with details of their origins and other significant information. 
The old is blended with the new as modern coloured illustrations sit beside the old photos.

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