'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Review: Australian Backyard Explorer

Winner of the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books in the Children's Book Council of Australia 2010 Awards, Australian Backyard Explorer well-deserves its accodale. This information-packed tome is a wonderful collection of facts, projects, adventures and information on all things possibly related to the Australian 'backyard'.

Of course, what comprises a backyard is subjective, and this book honours that concept, covering our greater backyard as well as our house-bound ones.

Beginning with a look at Australia's finest explorers, the author also makes the lesser known contributors to our country's foundation known. He covers convict explorers, aboriginal explorers, governors and even women, providing us a fascinating peek into the past.

In Finding a Way and Leaving Signs, Macinnis gives readers wonderful tips on how to navigate sand, scrubland, beaches, mountains, and use pathways off the beaten track. Drawing on the talents of indigenous trackers and the people who went before us, this information gives kids the tools and mind-expanding capability to stretch themselves beyond the norm. There's even a project in this chapter to see how sand dunes actually form, and ideas on how to leave messages that tell others you were here before them.

In Food, readers learn how food was carried and sourced. They learn about hunting, preservation, bush tucker and how to identify poisonous plants. The projects here include seed-planting and even some fabulous recipes that can be used mid-exploration, right in the heart of the wilderness.

Chapter Four is all about Collecting Animals. Our country's early explorers were intrigued by the unusual flora and fauna to be found on our shores, and many species made their way back to Europe to be paraded and enjoyed in the Homeland. In Chapter 5, plants are covered in equally fascinating measure.

Journals and Notebooks, The Water Problem and Trying to Stay Alive are all covered next, giving children (and adults!) unique insight into the issue facing our ancestors - and the phenomenal talent and resourcefulness that allowed them to survive and thrive.

The book also covers weather, shelter, measuring distance, mapping, navigating by the stars and a fresh look at modern day explorers and their exploits - all with that defining blend of fascinating fact, did-you-knows and glorious projects that will keep any child utterly enthralled, from making a compass to estimating distance by sound.

Meticulously researched and beautifully presented in a highly accessible way for youngsters, Australian Backyard Explorer is magnificently-edited, styled and presented - illustrated by a catalogue of paintings, sketches, diagrams and photographs from the National Library's stunning and extensive collection. This book is informative, fascinating and fun - and with all these elements combined, this is the kind of book that makes absolutely everyone happy.

An Australian treasure.

Title: Australian Backyard Explorer
Author: Peter Macinnis
Publisher: National Library of Australia, A$29.95RRP
Publication Date: 01/07/09
Format: Soft cover
ISBN: 9780642276841
For ages: 8+
Type: Information Book

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