Review Blog

Mar 28 2013

Meet Ned Kelly by Janeen Brian

cover image

Ill. by Matt Adams. Random House, 2013. ISBN 9781742757186. hbk., RRP $19.95.
'Ned Kelly, you are GUILTY of murder!' said the judge. Our Ned was but twenty five years old . . . But his story is still being told.' And so it is, including just earlier this year when his remains were finally interred next to his mother in an unmarked grave at Greta in Victoria, 233 years after his death. Because he remains such a controversial figure, either hero or villain, Ned Kelly is part of the story of this nation and this picture book version, told in verse by Janeen Brian and beautifully illustrated by Matt Adams, is perfect for introducing him to younger students. It tells the story from his schooldays through to his conviction in an unbiased fashion that will engage and entertain. Students will appreciate that he was just an ordinary kid much like them, but circumstances led him to make some choices that had unforeseen consequences. It provides a great basis for examining those choices, discussing alternatives and debating whether he should be held in the esteem he is.
This is the first in a series of books that will feature Australia's most famous including Saint Mary MacKillop, Douglas Mawson and Captain James Cook. They will fill the gap of being able to introduce younger students to those people they need to know about in a format and language that meets their needs and abilities. This is a great start that bodes well for the rest in the series.
Barbara Braxton

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