Friday 1 April 2022

Tyenna: Through My Eyes

Tyenna: Through My Eyes – Australian Disaster Series by Julie Hunt and Terry Whitebeach, edited by Lyn White (Allen and Unwin) Paperback RRP $16.99 ISBN 9781760877019

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Tye spends summer holidays with her grandparents, in Tasmania, in the pristine wilderness of Clancy’s Point. Her relationship with her Mum, is up and down, and the time away in Tasmania offers her stability. Tye’s best friend Lily lives next door, and they share a love of the land and nature. Tye longs to take part in conservation projects and to learn more about taking care of the environment. This thrilling novel is about Tyenna’s experience of the terrifying 2019 Tasmanian bushfires.

Julie Hunt and Terry Whitebeach have developed a suspenseful and engaging text. The threat of a dangerous bushfire and a runaway boy keeps the reader on edge and wondering if they will survive. The characters are strong, and their voices are gripping. Each character is distinct and well developed. A range of character age groups are included, along with a wombat called Myrtle who creates havoc. This story builds empathy and understanding on many topics including – the elderly, bushfires, conservation, Aboriginal perspectives, education, friendships, family dynamics, LGBT and foster children are a few.

Tye is raw and honest with a believable teenage voice. ‘Why didn’t you tell her where you really are?’ Bailey looks down. ‘She might send me away.’ ‘Your auntie wouldn’t do that!’ Tye says. The text is educational and layered with lots of information about bushfire preparation and firefighting. Scientific names for flora and historical facts are included. Immediately a text comes in from LukasHey, RUOK Just seen footage of burnt World heritage areas down your way. Ecological disaster. Are they going to wait till all the Gondwanian species are wiped out before they act? Or is it up to us? The text is a mix of short and long sentences that pace the story beautifully. What I particularly like about this text is that the reader is encouraged to think and question and be curious.

Tyenna: Through My Eyes is a wonderful story about family, friendship and community all working together during a bushfire emergency. I can see this book being used in schools because it’s a multilayered text that raises discussion about bush conservation and climate change. It is a book that will be a gripping read for children aged 11 – 14 years.

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