Review Blog

Apr 09 2009

The boy from Bowral: the story of Sir Donald Bradman by Robert Ingpen

cover image

Walker Books, 2008.
(Age 8+) For cricket enthusiasts, 2008 marked the centenary of Don Bradman's birth. Robert Ingpen celebrated the event by partnering his trademark illustrations with an account of the cricketer's career and achievements. The text concentrates on his development as a sportsman, revealing how he refined his batting technique and providing detailed accounts of some of his matches, complete with scores. Excursions into Bradman's life outside cricket are brief but mention of the encouragement of cricket-playing relatives helps to explain his motivation and commitment.
The prose is unadorned and easy to read, in a style reminiscent of sports journalism. Anyone not familiar with the game will search in vain for an explanation of the rules and a glossary of cricketing terms.
The sepia tones of the illustrations are evocative of a bygone era. They are particularly effective in sympathetic portraits of Bradman and nostalgic scenes of the Bowral schoolyard and cricket pitches. However some players will not warm to muted pictures of a game they love for its speed and precision. Despite well-defined chapters, there is no table of contents but a limited index guides readers to career highlights, matches and statistics. References to letters, newspaper articles and photographs offer an introduction to the use of primary sources in research. The text has been printed in a three column format. Any discomfort this may cause is offset by the relatively large font. The book is a quality hardcover picture book with a striking study of Don Bradman in action on the cover.
'The boy from Bowral' is not so much a biography as an attempt to explain a legend. It will appeal to readers already dedicated to the game played by 'The Don' with such consummate skill.
Elizabeth Bor

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