Heart of a Home by Isabella Crean, illustrated by Christine Schiedel (Redgum Book Club) PB RRP $12.50
Reviewed by Dianne Bates
What is the heart of a home? For ten year old Isabella Crean it’s the dining table. Crean, who suffers from epilepsy and has associated learning challenges, was the winner of an Australian-wide writing competition, and had her entry published – in this full-colour book. As one of the competition judges, I remember reading her story and scoring it highly. It’s quite an accomplishment for a child of her tender years.
Told in third person from the point of view of Table, the story begins with Table in the centre of a little white cottage where ‘every day the family began and ended its day.’ Table is the place of activities from sewing to homework to Christmas and other meals. ‘…The air would fill with the smells of roast pork and apple sauce and melting puddings. The bustle and hum of the family meal made table the centre of their world.’
All things of course have an ending: Table thus finds itself in an old garden shed where paraphernalia is dumped on it until years later it is taken in a truck to a new destination. Happily, this is in a shop from which it is eventually removed to a home, that of a refugee family. Full circle – and still Table is the ‘heart of a home.’
It’s a simple story, well told with language which is imbued with emotion, and which is clearly written. It’s a credit to Redgum Book Club that they published this winning entry and had it illustrated with line and coloured watercolour wash. Hopefully it will inspire children aged 8 to 12 years to read it, and perhaps to also write about what they think is central to their homes.