Good enough for a sheep station by David Cox
Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781743319031
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Station life in Australia, Coming of age, Country life. With the pared back humour of an Australian bushie, Cox tells the story of his early life, growing up on a sheep station in Central Queensland, surrounded by animals. He adores being with his father, the station manager, as he teaches his young son the many skills necessary for life in the bush. He learns to ride from an early age, drive a truck, mend fences, taken mustering and then working in the shearing shed, while inside he receives lessons from the Queensland Correspondence School supervised by his mother.
In spare words and detailed illustrations, Cox outlines the routines of station life, each page giving the reader insight into the tasks needed in such a place. Living through drought and rain, being sent away to boarding school, his first interest in girls, life is revealed with the lightest of touches and deceptively simple line and watercolour illustrations.
His father's death means that now he must earn his own way and he takes a job on a station further west. When the train stops at the old homestead where he grew up, the new manager hands him his father's old saddle, a touching reminder of the man he knew and the skills he passed on to his son.
The theme of change runs through this lovely tale of a boy becoming a man. Through the stories told by the old stockmen and his father, we are made aware of the contrast with their lives, and we know that the boy's life on a new station will be different again. Cobb and Co, is replaced by the train, life moves on as his father dies and he must carry on the skills he has been taught. The kindness of the men he has worked with lives on, the old man telling his stories, the new manager handing over the saddle, reiterating the strengths of bush life in Australia.