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

Saturday 10 March 2012

Review: Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline

This book made me feel like an idiot. Yep, you heard me. An idiot. There are so many things about this country I didn’t know, nor had I even thought about. But isn’t that the beauty of books, you learn something new everyday. Or in this case … about 50 things!

I think I have read through this book four times now and I still keep picking it up to go back and see “What was that thing I read again?” “When was that again?”.

Australia’s history is so young comparatively to the rest of the world, but this book gives you a much larger sense of the enormity of change that our beautiful land has gone through. Not only that, it is a COMPLETE history. Not a just a white settlement history (which is all I remember learning at primary school) but also not just an Indigenous history … an AUSTRALIAN history. Both, side by side. The good, the bad, the disgraceful and the beautiful. In Tania's acknowledgments I was moved to see that she has included thanks to our country's original inhabitants who set a deep and abiding spiritual foundation for the many people around the world who now call Australia home. Aren't they beautiful words?

What I love about history, is learning where we have gone wrong and mindfully trying to do better. Not only that, passing the knowledge of success and failure onto our youth so they are armed with the information to make informed decisions.

This book has been perfectly aimed at primary school students who will get so much out of this, even Mum and Dad might learn a thing or two! In saying that, it is for everyone.

The book displays our history right from the big bang up until 2010. Is your mind boggling with what might be in between? Well, so it should! The care and respect that Tania has taken in every little detail, right down to designer Peter Shaw's correct use of fonts for corresponding time periods, makes this book truly sing.

The layout of the book is brilliant. Perfect for small fingers to run along the time lines and point to the beautiful pictures sourced from the National Library's extensive collection.

Just a few fascinating facts from Australian Story that have captured my imagination:
1894: Women in South Australia are allowed to vote
1895: Time zones are introduced across Australia
1902: It is now legal to swim at public beaches
1912: Walter Burley Griffin wins a competition to design the new city of Canberra
1921: Edith Cowan is the first woman elected to Australian Parliament
1923: Vegemite is first produced
1942: Australian Daylight Saving Time begins

This book is an absolute delight. Honestly. The joy I got from reading it and the amount of times I annoyed my partner with a “Hey, did you know … ?” was brilliant.

The best part of this book is the natural discussions it opens up and the curiosity it nurtures. Australian Story is a must have for all libraries, schools and families. An absolute treasure to read and I am proud to now have a copy on my shelf as I know I will go back many more times to indulge.

To buy a copy of the book go here, and be sure to check out the Australian Story blog tour!

Title: Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline
Author: Tania McCartney
Illustrator: Peter Shaw
Publisher: National Library of Australia, $19.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1st April 2012
Format: Picture Book
ISBN: 9780642277459
For ages: 5+
Type: Paperback