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

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Review: Captain Thunderbolt’s Recital

I find bushrangers captivating and Captain Thunderbolt is no different. 

Known as the ‘gentleman bushranger’, it is believed that Captain Thunderbolt never shot anyone. In Captain Thunderbolt’s Recital, Jane Jolly has captured a more playful side of Australian bushranging history. 

In the 1860s, Captain Thunderbolt ambushed Wirth’s German Brass Band, taking their money and asking them to play a song. 

Captain Thunderbolt even conducted with his revolver.

‘Ernst fumbled with his bassoon.
His fingers shook as he lifted it
and began to play.
Brrroo! Brrroo! Brrroo! Brrroo!’

From Radio Rescue! to Tea and Sugar Christmas, Jane Jolly has a knack of re-igniting moments from our past. In Captain Thunderbolt’s Recital, Jolly uses vivid verbs, onomatopoeia and humour to help bring the event to life. Further, her evocative language helps to emphasise the musical essence of the story.

Liz Duthie skillfully employs watercolour and pencil to capture the dynamic movement of Captain Thunderbolt and the band members, infusing the illustrations with humour. The resulting artwork is a visually engaging and fun experience. Further, the gold lettering on the cover is particularly inviting.

As bushrangers are an important part of Australian history, Captain Thunderbolt’s Recital would make an excellent resource for the classroom. The topic of bushrangers aligns with multiple aims in the Australian curriculum, especially for upper primary students. 

For inquisitive minds, Jolly provides extra information and pictures at the end of the book. In fact, Mary Ann Bugg, a female, aboriginal bushranger, as well as Captain Thunderbolt’s partner, would make an interesting place to start research. Find more ideas in the teachers notes here.

Title: Captain Thunderbolt’s Recital
Author: Jane Jolly
Illustrator: Liz Duthie
Publisher: National Library of Australia, $24.99
Publication Date: 1 July 2023
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781922507464
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book