Children's Book Review, by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
EK Books (2013.)
Meet Ned, Lily, Zoe, Kirra and Matilda––three Aussie kids keen to take you on a journey through a year in the life of Australian children, from cultural celebrations to traditions and events, to our everyday way of life.
An Aussie Year is a picture book bursting with national pride. It is a snapshot of who we are as a nation, covering our melting-pot culture, lifestyle and traditions. Its pages feature trailing, meandering text, dates and gorgeous illustrations showing our five Aussie children at play, at school, at home, enjoying their homeland––from the tropical north to our rugged west.
Trailing through the seasons and idiosyncrasies endemic to each month of the year, this is Our Australian Childhood.
I loved this children's picture book from the moment it arrived chez Chook. The cover is fresh and energetic, hinting at the snapshots of Aussie kids' lives that lie within. The format does justice to the cover's promise: we're introduced to five children from different ethnic backgrounds who tell us about special days and happenings throughout the Australian year. The child characters introduce themselves, then share snippets that make each month special for them. For instance, Lily, whose Mum is from China, tells us that she gets red money-filled envelopes in Chinese New Year. All five kids appear in an illustration depicting the Henley-on-Todd regatta in August. McCartney has created text in language that's detailed and rich with sensory vocabulary, yet simple enough for children (say 6+) to read for themselves.
Snerling's illustrations are charming and fun. They're colourful but not garish, and zinging with kid-appeal. I adore the little quirky details she's added - a Tassie Devil is taking a chomp out of a table decorated with cupcakes and teaset, characters join in with speech-bubbled comments, there are all sorts of lines and arrows to follow and special fonts to add variety and even more colour. The palette Snerling has chosen against a white background and the graphic design features really make the illustrations pop. (Kids will love the end papers too!)
An Aussie Year is a brilliant and perfectly targeted concept for a children's picture book. This is a book kids will dip into, enjoy and think about. Perhaps it will prompt them to further research about our Australian culture and identity. I know An Aussie Year will make an excellent choice as a resource for Australian Studies and for libraries generally. It would also make an excellent gift for a child who lives overseas.
An Aussie Year Virtual Tour Schedule
An Aussie Year is currently touring online. For more reviews, sneak peeks, guest posts and lots of fabulous giveaways, see the entire tour schedule right here. Visit the An Aussie Year website to meet all the characters from the book, see updates and behind-the-scenes work. There are also some Fun Activities for kids.
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