Review Blog

Nov 22 2013

Caroline Chisholm: The emigrant's friend by Tania McCartney

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New Frontier Publishing, 2013. ISBN 9781921928482.
(Age 7+) Caroline Chisholm was a wife, mother, traveller, social worker, activist, researcher, public speaker and advocate for education. Her achievements were doubly remarkable in an era when women often found it difficult to make a contribution outside the home.
In the opening chapters, readers will learn about the childhood experiences that shaped not only Caroline's motivation to help others, but also her eagerness to travel beyond the confines of a comfortable home in England. Then, as they follow the course of her adult life, they can wonder at her ability to devise practical solutions to a range of problems confronting emigrants. During 32 years of activism, Caroline organised accommodation and education for young women, lobbied on behalf of settlers for land leases, helped to reunite convicts with their families, set up a loan society and arranged a system of shelter sheds for families journeying to the goldfields. The author has created a well-rounded character who experienced setbacks as well as successes, and whose accomplishments owed much to the collaboration and support of her husband Archibald. The inclusion of an Indigenous perspective on the promotion of emigration and land sales, might have added more depth to the story of the woman who was said by Henry Parkes to have 'peopled' Australia. Tania McCartney has told her story swiftly and decisively in short, vivid sentences that bring an extraordinary pioneer and her era to life. Pat Reynold's watercolour illustrations provide small but effective snapshots of people and locations. In keeping with the format of the Aussie Heroes series, the large, clear font, chapter headings and timeline make this biography a useful resource for the study of Australian history as well as a fascinating story in its own right.
Caroline Chisholm: The emigrant's friend takes its readers on the life journey of an extraordinary woman, whose aim was to improve the well-being of others and whose impact on colonial society deserves to be recognised as central to our country's history.
Elizabeth Bor

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