Review Blog

Oct 25 2011

From Kinglake to Kabul edited by Neil Grant and David Williams

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Allen and Unwin, 2011. ISBN 9781742375304.
(Age: 12+) Neil Grant was a writer in residence at a small secondary school when devastating bushfires swept through Kinglake and many towns in regional Victoria. In the aftermath of the Black Saturday tragedy contact was established with the International School of Kabul and students were invited to share their stories. Suffering is universal and Grant compiles the experiences of students connected by the tragedy of war and bushfires.
The book is an interactive experience. Students from Kinglake and Kabul respond to the experiences of each other. Loss, grief, fear and insecurity are themes explored by the children who contribute their personal stories. There is a juxtaposition. The children of Kinglake have endured a one off unanticipated horrifying trauma. There has been loss of life and property but there is a great sense of community support. By contrast, the students in Kabul have endured long term warfare and chaos. Trust and friendship are variable.
Containing many short stories, this book is ideal for classroom discussion. It does not need to be read sequentially. This book has relevance from many perspectives including historical, social, moral and personal.
Grant's voice is interspersed between the stories of students and sometimes it is hard to distinguish where one voice ends and his begins. A little more editing may have been in order. Despite this, the book is a wonderful stimulus for class discussion of these contemporary issues.
Tina Cain

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