Review Blog

Apr 16 2015

An Aussie year by Tania McCartney

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Ill. by Tina Snerling. EK Books, 2013. ISBN 9781921966248 (Age: K-3) Meet Ned, Zoe, Lily, Kirri and Matilda - five Aussie kids from different backgrounds who lead the reader on a journey through twelve months of the Australian year. Comprising cartoon-like vignettes with captions, we follow the children through the months and seasons as they celebrate what is unique to them and also what is common to all Australian children. From the slip, slap, slop of summer to back to school to the beginning of Ramadan the enormous range of cultures and ethnic backgrounds of our students are showcased providing a dozen different talking points on each double spread.
But the overwhelming theme is that of unity rather than diversity, of similarity rather than difference. Regardless of who your family is or where they come from, everyone enjoys fishing off the jetty in summer, going to the footy in winter, or getting ready for Christmas in December. This is a book focusing on our inclusivity and how our nation has melded together into a multicultural one in which the celebrations, food, and languages of others enriches our lives and adds extra layers to them. Each page offers the opportunity to explore and find out more - do huntsman spiders really grow as big as tennis balls?; how can you have a yacht race in Alice Springs?; what is daylight savings time?; how do other children celebrate Easter?
Apart from being a pictorial almanac of the things that Ned, Zoe, Lily, Kirri and Matilda do throughout the year, An Aussie Year lends itself to a personal interpretation as its theme and style could be the springboard for a class calendar as each student contributes something that is important to them for each month. Imagine how it engaging it would be if each child's birthday was featured on a page rather than a string of cardboard cakes with candles that loses its appeal very quickly. Imagine how much the children would learn about each other if each shared the things they liked to do or the events that are important to their family in a way that became an engaging read. Imagine the sense of belonging that each child would have as their heritage is acknowledged and celebrated and their classmates understood them a bit better. Each month a particular country could be highlighted with food and stories and other lifestyle elements as national days are celebrated. (There's a list at http://protocol.dfat.gov.au/NationalDay/list.rails)
Barbara Braxton

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