Review Blog

Jan 27 2017

When the lyrebird calls by Kim Kane

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Allen & Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781741758528
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. All Australian fiction is important, and fiction which helps understand what federation meant for Australia even more so. So many people today don't have much of an understanding of Australian history as it is often portrayed, even by some historians, as 'boring'. Our 'boring' history is fundamental to the nation we made and maintain today. Kim Kane's When the lyrebird calls is, for that reason, a novel I would highly recommend to a middle-school audience. The reader will join Madeline in a journey to the past which shows that the foundations of the Australia of today were already well underway in the 'olden days' of last century.
Madeline would much rather be spending summer playing cricket with her friends in New South Wales, but instead she's been shipped to Mum-Crum's while her Mum revises for her exams. With nothing else to do, her days fall into Mum-Crum's strict structure of exercise, 7-vegetable smoothies, and renovations. That is until she discovers a pair of shoes hidden in an old cupboard and ventures out to the Lyrebird Muse, the local museum. Along the way she falls through time and into the previous century where a friendship blossoms between her and Gertrude Williamson, of the Williamson family - one that had an important role in Australia's federation. While in the past Madeline must learn to fit in and work out a way back home or else face a future trapped in the past with Elfreida, Mrs. Williamson's German cousin poised to tear the family apart.
Just a schoolgirl from New South Wales, Madeline is more modern than even the whackyiest member of the Williamson family. With her anti-racist, anti-sexist, pro feminist beliefs, Madeline struggles to navigate the horribly racist, sexist, and anti-feminist past which is often glossed over in historic fiction.
Kayla Gaskell, 20.
Editor's note: Teacher's notes are available from the publisher's website.

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