Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Children’s Book Review, This is Home



Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com



This is Home: Essential Australian Poems for Children is a children’s poetry book with poems selected by Jackie French, illustrated by Tania McCartney, and published by National Library of Australia (2019.) RRP: $Au 34.99 HB.

From the publisher:

In 'This Is Home', much-loved author Jackie French has gathered a poem for every child and every mood. What do you feel like doing today? Sit beside a bush campfire with Oodgeroo Noonuccal, watch people going by with Henry Lawson, float away with Alison Lester, learn to read with Andy Griffiths or be brave with Shaun Tan.

Ideal for sharing with the whole family, this extensively illustrated edition brings together old favourites and sure-to-be new favourites in an indispensable addition to children's bookshelves. From poems that whisper to poems that roar, from words of tranquillity and heartbreak to those of the witty and absurd, there is something within these pages to make everyone feel at home.

This is Home: Essential Australian Poems for Children is an excellent choice for teachers who want to share Australian poetry with their students. I also love the idea of parents buying it so they can make it a priority to include poetry in their family read-alouds. Anything that raises the profile of Australian poetry, and indeed of poetry in general, is a truly wonderful idea. For those children or adults who have sadly already developed an aversion to poetry, there are many inclusions in This is Home to tempt them to change their minds.

French has included a range of appealing poems, from classics to moderns, and from serious to silly. She has given short introductions to each section, and has offered suggestions for those who prefer to read by “inclination “- eg for those in primary/high school, for those who like animals etc. McCartney’s illustrations really sing. They will immediately attract youngsters, and are also appropriate to the accompanying poem’s theme.

I admit to being a little disappointed in one part of the book’s appearance. Not the illustrations - as I said, they are excellent, and will attract young readers to This is Home. But with a couple of the poems, I thought the size of the font and the length of lines made the text look blocky and off-putting for those kids who like more white space. However, the idea of an anthology is to have a range of poems, with the understanding that some will appeal to this person, and some to that. So my observation is minor, in that context.

I hope children will enjoy the many wonderful poems as much as I did. This is Home - Essential Australian Poems for Children is a must-have resource for Australian libraries, will round-out a unit on poetry or Australia, and makes an amazing gift for those special children who love words.


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