Review Blog

Jul 31 2014

Meet Douglas Mawson by Mike Dumbleton

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Ill. by Snip Green. Random House, 2014. ISBN 9780857981950.
(Age: Yr 2+) Douglas Mawson is one of Australia's most iconic heroes. As the leader of the first Australian expedition to the Antarctic a century ago, his journeys commemorated through having his portrait on the $100 note, a suburb in Canberra named after him and the longest continuously operating station south of the Antarctic Circle bearing his name, Douglas Mawson deserves a place in this series of books which celebrates great Australians.
The story of his remarkable journey which began in Hobart in December 1911 is told in simple, straightforward text which is perfect for its intended audience of younger students just starting to learn about the people who have helped build our nation. Accompanied by illustrations that use a limited colour palette, reminiscent of the colours of Antarctica itself, and which capture the beauty and drama of the landscape so well, it tells of the challenges of this incredible expedition undertaken long before there were mechanised transport or navigational devices such as a GPS. The timeline at the end of the book provides a summation of this man's amazing life and contribution to Australia's continuing presence in Antarctica.
This series fits neatly into the history strand of the Australian National Curriculum for Years 3-4, its picture book format adding to its appeal. Written in a way that draws the reader into a story rather than just a series of facts and figures, this is a perfect introduction to the topic that teaches as it tells. Others in the collection include Ned Kelly, James Cook, Mary MacKillop and the ANZACs. It is so good to see publishers responding to the need and demand for non-fiction that not only addresses the requirements of the Australian Curriculum at an appropriate level but which satisfies those readers who, from an early age, already show a preference for informative books that offer them more than just pictures to look at and interpret. I'm looking forward to the next in the series which focuses on Nancy Bird Walton!
Barbara Braxton

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