Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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An Amazing Australian Road Trip (Jackie Hosking, illus by Lesley Vamos, Walker Books)

This cheerful picture book employs a lively rhyming narrative alongside factual snippets, creating a unique reading experience that is sure to appeal to fans of both fiction and nonfiction. The narrative follows a boisterous family as they embark on a road trip around Australia to celebrate Aunty’s 60th birthday, while the nonfiction text provides facts about the landmarks they visit. Both Jackie Hosking’s rhyming story and Lesley Vamos’s glorious illustrations are extremely entertaining, and young readers will particularly appreciate the book’s many visual gags (such as the person sitting on a toilet in an underground house in Coober Pedy and Aunty being sick over the side of the Spirit of Tasmania). The nonfiction text outweighs, but does not overwhelm, the narrative. While the illustrations and rhyming text are wonderful, the nonfiction copy would have benefitted from a sensitivity reader. For example, the language used in relation to Kakadu—‘Kakadu has been occupied by Aboriginal people for at least 50,00 years and more than half of the park is Aboriginal land’—feels a little insensitive. It is particularly jarring that it appears alongside the gorgeously diverse family of Vamos’s illustrations.

Hannah Gardiner has a master of arts and a master of research in children’s literature, and works as a children’s book buyer.

 

Category: Junior Reviews