Review Blog

Jul 01 2014

Meet Douglas Mawson by Mike Dumbleton

cover image

Ill. by Snip Green. Random House, 2014. ISBN 9780857981950.
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Picture book, Explorers, Mawson. A hardcover picture book in the series, Meet ... will fill a niche in primary schools where explorers and great Australians are an accepted part of the curriculum. Others in this series include books about Ned Kelly and Mary McKillop. Each is of necessity, brief, giving an account of the person's life and achievements in sparse prose, highlighting only a few events.
With Mawson, the focus is on the first Australian Expedition to Antarctica, in 1911. With Mawson as its leader, the expedition sorely tested those who went, and Dumbleton's pared down words combined with the breathtaking illustrations, give an amazing account of the privations these men underwent.
His determination to see the continent, mapping it, taking measurements and geological observations in an attempt to understand the place and how it evolved was paramount, but when Ninnis and his sled plunged down a ravine taking most of their food with him, Mawson and the other remaining team member, Mertz were five hundred kilometres from their base.
The story of how Mawson survived is one of the great feats of history and will amaze younger readers.
The wallpaper like images across the pages, underscore the freezing nature of the environment, giving the reader the feeling of cold and ice, building the feeling of dread as Mawson attempts to get back to the base.
So fascinating is this brief taste, that students will feel impelled to look further to find out more about this man, one of Australia's heroes.
Fran Knight

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