Review Blog

Apr 15 2019

This is home: essential Australian poems for children selected by Jackie French

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Illus. by Tania McCartney. NLA, 2019. ISBN: 9780642279385.
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Themes: Poetry. In her introduction, French tells us that she has selected a group of poems that tell of our country for readers from eight years old. In selecting she has included some old favourites, some newer and some never before published, many humorous and all to reflect the diverse background, culture and history of this country.
Beginning with a page which gives some information about the sorts of poems included, the reader must then turn to the index to find the poem. I missed having a contents page but the index provided my source of where to find things.
And what a coverage; from The man from Snowy River (Banjo Paterson) to Grass trees (Jackie Hosking) Dog days (Elaine Harris) Puddin' song (Norman Lindsay) Ward ((Shaun Tan) the list includes many old favourites by Paterson, Henry Lawson, Odgeroo Noonuccal, but also newer poems by Meredith Costain, Christopher Cheng, Steven Herrick, Leigh Hobbs and Janeen Brian to name a few. Supported by McCartney's very funny illustrations, each page is lifted by the visual story which accompanies the poems, be it a nostalgic rural scene, Uluru, a group of children playing, a coastal vista, or a city panorama. All filled with a warm humour, each drawing is recognisable and endearing.
It is a book to dip into, to reread known poems and those not seen before, to delight in the sweep of the classic Australian way of life to one more attuned to today's world, to laugh out loud, to be still and sad, to be aroused and be made thoughtful. But in the end, poems are written to be read out loud, to share, to marvel at a poet's ability to say so much in so few words, to create so much passion in a phrase, to tell a story that will stay with you. And this collection is full of poems that will do just that.
Fran Knight

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