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Monday, 22 November 2010

Review: Ned Kelly and the Green Sash

It’s dangerously easy to turn outlaws and murderers into heroes… pirates are a case in point, and Ned Kelly has oft skirted the boundaries of unstated heroism.

In Ned Kelly and the Green Sash, author Greenwood writes in the first person, from Kelly’s own mouth, in a book that doesn’t romanticize nor laud Australia’s most famous criminal, but rather presents a point of view on Kelly’s life that… well… makes the reader think.

It’s not a sympathetic story. It’s not self-pitying nor trying to prove a point. What this story is – is a story. Told by the man himself and offering viewpoints that allow the reader to make up their own mind about Kelly’s life. Was he a victim of circumstance? A product of his harsh environment, an unfairly blamed misfit?

It might surprise you to know that Ned Kelly was actually once a hero. One day, in soaking rain by Hughes Creek, the eleven-year-old Kelly took a shortcut and came across a young Richard Shelton who was fishing for his hat in the river with a stick. When Shelton fell in, Kelly saved his life, and was presented with a green silk sash by Mr Shelton, which Kelly treasured.

Soon after, Kelly’s father was jailed and died, leaving Kelly fatherless and ripe for shenanigans and the influence of those around him. Soon, the young roustabout was regularly bushranging, holding up and robbing the rich... yet despite his criminal activity, he believed the law was too harsh on him.

Ned Kelly’s life was short – and the author allows his subject’s voice to slip easily from his pen – his chosen words are authentic and clearly steeped in the past. A well-written, beautifully illustrated book that will remain timeless.
Title: Ned Kelly and the Green Sash
Illustrator: Frané Lessac
Publisher: Walker Books, A$27.95RRP
Publication Date: 1 June 2010
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781921150876
For ages: 6-10
Type: Picture Book

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