Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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The Story of Australia: For the young (and the curious) (Don Watson, Black Inc.)

After being out of print for 20 years, Don Watson’s The Story of Australia has been given a new life, a new target demographic and a new subtitle. Now targeted at primary school–aged children, The Story of Australia: For the young (and the curious) explores the history of the country, from Gondwanaland to the present day. The design of the book is excellent: it’s brightly coloured, highly engaging and easy to read. The text is broken in to 13 discrete sections, presented chronologically. The first two are devoted to Australian history leading up to the invasion of the British, while the ones that follow each cover a period of 20 or 30 years. Watson’s coverage of British colonisation and the resulting decimation of First Nations cultures centres the Aboriginal narrative, rather than romanticising the European. The beginning of each section presents a timeline of the events that will be covered, with each subsequent double-page spread devoted to a new topic from that period, including ‘Megafauna and the Dingo’, ‘Life on the Collingwood Flat’ and ‘Mabo’. The end of each section is designated by a brightly illustrated character study of a person from the era, ranging from Mungo Woman to Kylie Minogue. While the text covers a great range of topics, the brevity required to fit each into a double-page spread often causes the information to feel truncated. Nevertheless, this is sure to be a favourite for inquisitive kids and school libraries alike.

Hannah Gardiner has been a bookseller since 2005 and currently works as a children’s buyer.


Category: Junior Reviews