Review Blog

Dec 07 2017

Little dog and the summer holiday by Corinne Fenton

cover image

Ill. by Robin Cowcher. Black Dog Books, 2017. ISBN 9781925381160
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Holidays. Summer. Animals. Journeys. Caravans. A wonderful caravan holiday is anticipated as the family sets out from Melbourne headed for Sydney in the 1960's. With Dad at the wheel of the FJ Holden, Mum in the passenger seat and two kids, Jonathan and Annie, in the back with their dog, Little Dog, they set off along the highway.
Each night they stop at a caravan park, meeting the neighbours, cooking their tea on a primus stove, and playing with the other kids. The whole is redolent of the seemingly more relaxed lifestyle of the times where TV and electronic devices were nowhere to be seen, where families traveled together playing Eye-spy, ad cards, quoits and games at night. They stop at the border between Victoria and New South Wales, the Dog on the Tuckerbox, finally crossing Sydney Harbour Bridge. They visit the sights, Bondi Beach and the Blue Mountains, until it is time to return.
This is an affectionate look at family holidays in the past, brim full of touches of the 1960's in the clothing, caravans and cars, as well as the choice of food, equipment, drink and games.
The story encourages readers to look at the differences between their holidays and those of the family, asking how many have holidayed in a caravan. Questions about the range of things dotted on each page ask to be discussed: the fly spray atomiser, the fly swatter, the esky, primus stove and lamp, camera, canoe and so on. Some of the things point out the negative aspects of such a holiday: mosquitoes and flies, lamp light at night, keeping the primus filled so that Mum could cook, the lack of refrigeration, bunking together in a small caravan. But the whole is a nostalgic look at how families holidayed in the past, beautifully illustrated with soft water colour images full of detail, urging the eyes to pore over each page, perhaps seeing that the holiday might not have been so restful for the parents.
Fran Knight

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