Review Blog

Oct 15 2010

Ned Kelly and the green sash by Mark Greenwood

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Ill. by Frane Lessac. Walker Books 2010. ISBN 9781921150876.
(All ages) Highly recommended. In this beautifully illustrated non-fiction picture book, Greenwood and Lessac bring to life the notorious bushranger, Ned Kelly, his childhood and the duality of his character.
The book commences with words written by Kelly in his Condemned Cell,
'I do not pretend that I have led a blameless life, or that one fault justified another, but the public, judging a case like mine, should remember that the darkest life may have a bright side, and after the worst has been said against a man, he may, if he is heard, tell a story in his own rough way'.
The story then highlights the tale of young Kelly rescuing a drowning boy and being presented with a green sash for his courage, as well as examining the poverty of his life and his later crimes.
Greenwood has produced a really thought provoking book. On one hand the reader finds out about Kelly's bravery and his pride in the green sash that was a symbol of this. On the other hand the reader sees Kelly's violent crimes through the inclusion of newspaper articles of the time, giving the view of the press about bushranger and his gang. Additional biographical information and facts at the back of the book also ensure a lively discussion about right and wrong.
Lessac's wonderful illustrations, painted in bold greens, reds and oranges for the Australian bush, and subdued tones for the goals, greatly added to my understanding of the times. She brought to life for me the poverty of the Irish family, struggling to stay alive through drought, the way that Ned eased into a life of crime and the harassment by the police.
An outstanding picture book for all ages, this is sure to become a classic.
Pat Pledger

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