Ten pound Pom by Carole Wilkinson
Ill. by Liz Anelli. Black Dog Books, 2017. ISBN 9781925381214
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Immigration, Migrant experience, Voyages and travel, Australian history. The story of Carole Wilkinson's journey to Australia in the 1960's is revealed here for a primary audience to encourage their understanding of the trip made by many of the migrants coming to Australia after World War Two. A scheme encouraging migration from the United Kingdom was set in place in 1945, called the Assisted Package Migration Scheme, with the catchcry of 'Men for the land and women for the home', with a similar scheme begun in New Zealand in 1947. Over one million people migrated from the United Kingdom between 1945 and 1972 swelling Australia's population.
With her family making the decision to come to Australia at the height of the Cold War, saying goodbye to friends and family was the order of the day. Dad built some big boxes to take their furniture and these were picked up by the authorities. On the ship, Wilkinson outlines some of the things they did, while calling in to several places along the way. Anelli's mixed media illustrations scatter the book, giving an outstanding visual accompaniment to the text, putting into pictures the Wilkinson family's journey.
The family discusses what will happen to them and so the readers will learn of what happened to migrants arriving in Australia. No nissan hut for this family, they were to live with family members for a while until dad could get a job and find a house.
At the end of the book is given a brief outline of the government policies which instituted the Assisted Migrant Scheme, along with a glossary of unfamiliar words used in the text, and a useful index.
An engaging text, full of the hopes and concerns (particularly when dad's boxes were unloaded in Perth instead of Adelaide) of the whole family, alongside lively illustrations will ensure that this book is well received, giving a perspective of Australia's migrants not often seen. It will fit well in a unit of work looking at the different ways Australia's population has developed and students will be able to compare the differing government policies towards migration to our shores.
(NB: I read Pea pod lullaby by Glenda Millard, and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, at the same time as Ten pound Pom and could not help thinking about the difference between the migrant experience presented in the two books).