Saturday 23 September 2023

Country Town

Country Town by Isolde Martyn and Robyn Ridgeway, illustrated by Louise Hogan (Ford Street Publishing) PB RRP $19.95 ISBN: 9781922696359

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

The settlement starts as a First Nations river camp in 1822, and grows through boom times and gloom times to become a bustling country town. Along the way, the residents experience the best and worst of life: a gold rush, a flood, the building of the railway, the Great Depression and a visit from Queen Elizabeth II. Through it all, the townspeople discover the strength that comes from a united community.

Brimming with an incredible amount of comprehensive and compelling text, Country Town is suitable for children aged ten to fourteen. Using an imaginary town as their subject, Isolde Martyn and Robyn Ridgeway depict a wide range of circumstances found in rural regions of Australia, and tackle deep themes including colonisation, migration and climate change. Subheadings split the text into easily-to-absorb sections, while also allowing room for information about real-life people, places and events.

Louise Hogan’s beautiful bird’s-eye-view illustrations reveal the ebb and flow of the town over the decades. The warm and inviting colour palette heightens the nostalgic charm of the images. Interesting vignettes help to break up the text and bring to life specific elements for the reader.

A perfect book for older kids who are fascinated by Australian history, Country Town is a unique learning journey through time and space. The intricacy of the words and artworks will inspire repeated readings of this book. 

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