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

Friday 27 September 2019

Review: Rusty

Rusty is a story written to explore concepts related to out of home care and associated trauma.

Chrissy McYoung, whose time working in community services and seeing the experiences of children in foster care, led her to create Rusty, is both author and illustrator.

Rusty tackles a difficult subject, and it comes with many complexities.

Rusty feels different. He doesn't want to be shuffled from one home to another. He wants to be understood, he just wants to be like everyone else.

Then one day he meets Rose, who isn't like anyone else he's known. As they come to know each other better, Rusty and Rose discover they have some things in common. It doesn't stop Rusty from feeling angry and sad, but he learns to trust and respect Rose, who wants to be there for him.

Using a dog as the central character allows the situations explored to be a little bit removed from real life. There are many issues raised in Rusty, including: being separated from your family and managing the emotions that creates; having multiple and varied carers, and needing to move regularly; rules that seem to change with every new carer; being unable to focus at school; and feeling trapped and alone.

Chrissy McYoung's illustrations are vibrant and full of interesting features. I particularly liked seeing little touches like 'Dogopoly'.

At the back of the book there is a lot of extra information to support adults using it as a tool for discussion. It includes: a short background to Rusty's story; a fantastic double-page spread image of a dog's head with simple scientific explanations of the brain and how behaviour is affected by trauma; and insight into the impact on children who experience out of home care.

Rusty is an excellent opportunity to raise a subject that explores what tens of thousands of children in Australia experience every day. For those who have never come into contact with this, it's a chance to learn more, and for those who have, it's a chance to discuss those experiences.

Title: Rusty
Author/Illustrator: Chrissy McYoung  
Publisher: Hairy Phish Productions, $29
Publication Date: March 2019
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978151843345
For ages:  5+
Type: Picture book