Review Blog

May 01 2013

Remembering Lionsville by Bronwyn Bancroft

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781742373201.
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Picture book. Aboriginal themes. Family. Beautifully illustrated in Bancroft's distinctive style, this book is a homage to her Aboriginal family and their ancestries, their environment and work ethic. Lionsville in northern New South Wales is a small community where Bronwyn Bancroft's family was raised. The grandfather, Pa, married Emily and they had four children, but when Emily died, her sister, Annie moved in to help raise the children, but living in the house was frowned upon, so Pa married Annie and they too had four children, one of whom, Uncle Pat still lives there and passes on the many stories about the house, the family and the environment to the younger children.
A beautifully told recollection of a family life now almost gone, where kids were able to swim in the creek, watch out for lizards and snakes, tell stories under the trees with Uncle Pat and have picnics in the woods beyond the house with Aunty Alice, reminds readers of the importance of the older family members and the memories they have to share.
With no mobile phone or internet to tear at the eyes and ears of the children, there is time to listen to the older family members telling stories of their land, or their family, of the others who have gone before them. The children's anticipation when driving out to the old farm is infectious, reminding readers of times when they too drove long distances to visit older relatives or friends, full of expectation and excitement, remembering times past when they could do such things.
This is a book to savour, to take time sifting around and sharing the stories in it, pointing out the many things which fill the house and its garden, the orchard and places where the family members worked. Along with other wonderful books like The Fair Dunkum War and The Road to Goonong , both by David Cox, the image of a time almost gone is breathtaking, and readers will enjoy asking questions about some of the things in the illustrations which are no longer seen.
Fran Knight

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