Review Blog

Oct 01 2013

The mostly true story of Matthew and Trim by Cassandra Golds

cover image

Ill. by Stephen Axelsen. Penguin, 2005. ISBN 9780143302179.
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Australian history. Graphic novel. Matthew Flinders. Cats. Adventure. A touch of fantasy brings the statue of Trim alive to communicate once again with his owner, Captain Matthew Flinders. The two statues take pride of place outside the Mitchell Library in Sydney, where Flinders' statue was erected in 1925, and Trim's in 1998. Both statues commemorate the courage, daring and abilities of Flinders in his exploration and cartography. He is responsible for the naming of Australia, and was the first to circumnavigate and map this island. His cat Trim, which accompanied him, has a large following, with several books devoted to him, the first written by Flinders, as well as the naming of the shop within the library. Another statue of Flinders in his home town in England, also has a cat winding its way around the legs of the seafarer.
So Golds and Axelsen had plenty to work with in their graphic novel outlining the lives of this adventurous pair. When the clock strikes midnight outside the library the two statues come alive and together reminisce about their beginnings and the adventures they had. In this way, Golds treats her readers to a fabulous overview of the life and achievements of Flinders, and his cat, Trim, who sailed with him. Axelsen's illustrations provide a wonderfully alive chronological parade of their doings, and add prodigiously to the facts presented. The accuracy of the illustrations with regards to costume, shipping, and housing will teach the students much about the time between 1788 when Australia first saw English settlers, and 1814 when Flinders died. It is a poignant story of a man feted by History but largely ignored by those who employed him. All this the author and illustrator have achieved in their graphic novel to allow a new generation of students to learn of his place in our history. With the new curriculum and its emphasis on Australian History, this book is well placed to be at least on every school library shelf, if not with a class set for middle to upper primary students to learn about an explorer who did so much for Australia.
Fran Knight

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