Review Blog

Aug 22 2019

All aboard! True train tales by Pauline Deeves

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National Library of Australia, 2019. ISBN: 9780642279392.
(Age: 9+) Recommended. Subjects: Trains - History, Australian Railway History, Museums, Grandfathers. Eight-year-old Jack's family are train enthusiasts, his parents work for the railways and his grandparents worked on trains before retiring. His grandpa always has an interesting train tale to tell and Jack loves helping him at the local railway museum. Once a year, there's a special Open Day at the end of the spring school holidays. With the museum under threat of closing, Jack and his family come up with creative ways of raising enough funds to save the station, trains and memorabilia.
Each one of Grandpa's stories lead into a recount of historic events, the convict powered train in Tasmania, the Hawkesbury Crash, as well as Ned Kelly's stand at Glen Rowan. Before the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened it was loaded with more than 90 engines to test its strength! Each section has a Position Vacant box that lists the skills needed to be a guard, driver, even the fettler who kept the tracks in good condition.
Interspersed between the factual accounts, the story continues. The museum committee listen to the fundraising suggestions from Jack and his family; they veto younger brother Max's bank robbery idea! The local community, football club and service groups rally together to support the Open Day, providing food, help with preparation and clean up and managing the crowds. Grandpa surprises everyone, organising two smelly camels corralled in the old station yard, reminding everyone about the times when circus trains carried the performers and animals from town to town.
Pauline Deeves All aboard! True train tales is an engaging read, just right for families to share, discovering a very important part of Australia's past, linked with the fictional account of Jack's family and the journey to save the Railway Museum. Many of the photos included are from the National Library of Australia, showcasing the eras when trains connected the capital cities and inland routes. Presented in colourful boxes, with speech bubbles and captions added, each section of well researched information covers all aspects of the railways from signals, tracks to goods trains. An excellent HASS resource for Middle Primary classes investigating the importance of the rail industry, connecting the country, moving passengers and goods.
Rhyllis Bignell

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