Review Blog

Sep 11 2019

A different land by Paul Jennings

cover image

Illus. by Geoff Kelly. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760528720. 128 pg.
(Ages: 8+) Highly recommended. Themes: Migration, Resilience, Courage, Loneliness, Difference, Persistence, Cultural acceptance. The snake on the front cover of A different land, slithering its way through thick bush, will immediately grab the attention of readers who will want to know what happens to the three figures in the background. And they won't be disappointed in this short tale of Christopher, his mother and Anton who have travelled 12,000 miles to Australia and then made a long train journey in hope of employment. When the trio arrive though, they find that the pub is very run down and they have to live in a caravan smelling of dead pig.
Jennings explores what it is like to be a migrant in a new and very strange land. Christopher is lonely and missing his familiar homeland, but knows that his mother Pat believes they will have a better future after leaving their bombed home town and the deaths of his twin brother and father. He is determined to find out about Crayfish and his wife Peggy and what he is doing in the bush and at the same time must learn to fit in.
Humour and pathos permeate this story, a companion to A Different Boy and A Different Dog. It would be an ideal read aloud or class novel, examining the aftermath of war, the resilience of new migrants coming to Australia and the courage and persistence of all who try to make a living in the bush. The slight reference background to Anton's story of running away from a boy's home could also be researched by curious readers.
Illustrations in strong black ink strokes by Geoff Kelly add to the atmosphere of the book and give readers an in-depth feel for the bush setting, the wooden buildings, the waves and the boat.
Scroll down the page for teacher's tips from the publisher.
Pat Pledger

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