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

Saturday 12 November 2016

Review: Radio Rescue!

Jim loves his life at Four Wells. His childhood is an outdoor wonderland of hunting rabbits and chasing goannas with his dog Bluey. But he sometimes gets lonely. His friend Frank lives so far away, and Mum and Dad are so busy taking care of the house and working the station.

Jim so looks forward to when those new, fancy radios will be available for families across Australia. How amazing will it be to hear voices from far away?

One hot day, Jim's wish comes true. Alf arrives with a stack of boxes in the back of his truck--and inside is a big wooden box with pedals and all manner of wires. He spends time connecting them up, testing the wires tapping out morse code.

Then--there!--across the airwaves! Voices! A greeting to the people at Four Wells from far, far away!

You can only begin to imagine the intense excitement Jim must have felt when his family heard radio voices for the very first time. People living in remote rural and Outback posts were often so completely isolated--the connection to others must have been both a magical and heartwarming experience that changed their lives for the better.

Indeed, Jane Jolly's beautifully penned tale covers the difficulties of such a life, and the benefits of instant contact. When Jim's Dad is thrown from his horse, the lad rushes inside to call the Flying Doctor--and what could have been a day or more of waiting for help turns into just a half hour before the doctor's plane appears on the horizon.

This is an important book for exposing the fascinating ways of the past to young children. Modern kids will be agog at the old-time contraptions families once found modern and high-tech. The story would make for brilliant classroom discussion. Addendum pages at the back of the book expound on the Outback radio, with early photographs and compelling information on Reverend John Flynn and Alf Traeger, who were responsible for developing the first pedal-generated radios (among other philanthropic achievements).

Robert Ingpen's goosebumping illustrations are presented as both single page monochrome imagery and full-page spreads of lustrous Outback colour that pop open from white full-page flaps. Their gentle and textured palette is a heart-thumping dream to peruse, and beautifully capture life at the time. Each spread is an absolute treat to unfold, and both lovers of art and kids themselves will be intrigued by his use of colour and light.

A fascinating item of Australia's past brought to life in a beautifully-produced, totally collectible book--made accessible to the very young--as great books should.

Title: Radio Rescue!
Author: Jane Jolly
Illustrator: Robert Ingpen
Publisher: National Library Publishing, $24.99
Publication Date: 1 November 2015
Format: Hard cover
ISBN: 9780642278784
For ages: 5 - 9
Type: Picture Book