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

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Review: This is Home: Essential Australian Poems for Children

I am a strong believer in the importance of poetry for children. As well as conveying the rhythm and beauty of language, it opens their eyes to different ways to perceive our world. To present truth in small, easily digestible chunks, to explore feeling and emotion, to reflect on the past and dream about the future.

This extraordinary new poetry collection for children, compiled by Jackie French, stunningly illustrated by Tania McCartney, and published by the National Library of Australia, is a true celebration of Australia.

This collection contains poignant observations on Australian life and culture through depictions of landscape, historical events, feelings and experiences of Australians from a variety of backgrounds and times. They express what has shaped us as a nation – from the challenging and heartfelt to the joyful and fun.

From famous historical poets such as Banjo Paterson and Dorothea Mackellar, to modern marvels such as Geoff Page, Libby Hathorn and Omar Musa, and future talent such as Leo Barnard, who penned his poem, A Palace of a God at the age of 14, this collection really does have something for everyone.

Tania McCartney’s gorgeous illustrations depict landscapes, animals and everyday kids, with a fun yet authentic feel that connects with the poetry to not just illustrate it but add an additional layer of intricacy and meaning.

Another remarkable feature of the illustrations is that Tania has masterfully included textures gleaned from around National Library of Australia in her artwork. This subtle connection to the heart of Australian literary culture makes the book even more special.

The collection is divided into themed sections, each with a short yet affecting poetic introduction by Jackie French. And instead of a standard table of contents, Jackie groups the poems to help her readers, for example 'If you want to hear whispers from the past, listen to' or 'if you love animals, then you may also love,' this is a great way to engage kids before they have even started reading!

As Jackie rightly points out, there are many more poems that contribute to the narrative of our country, but there are only so many that will fit in one book. Rest assured that with this collection, each and every one of you will be able to find at least one poem that speaks to you today. Hopefully one that speaks to you tomorrow as well, and the day after that.

This collection contains poems with heart, poems to make you think, make you laugh and make you cry. All the colours of language come together to paint a glorious picture of Australia in all its beauty and diversity (and fun!).

What more can I say, but this a very special poetry collection to buy every child you know so you can share the story of Australia through language and give them a gift they can treasure for a lifetime.

Title: This is Home: Essential Australian Poems for Children
Author: Various Authors, compiled by Jackie French
Illustrator: Tania McCartney
Publisher: NLA Publishing, $34.99
Publication Date: 1 April 2019
Format: Hard Cover
ISBN: 9780642279385
For ages: 5+
Type: Poetry Collection