Under the Southern Cross by Frane Lessac

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WalkerBooks, 2018. ISBN 9781925381016
(age: 6+) Recommended. Themes: Australia. Southern Cross. Astronomy. Award-winning Lessac's latest picture book for older readers takes us on a journey around Australia, following the activities people are involved with when the Southern Cross can be seen in the night sky. Beginning with the penguins coming home to their nests on Philip Island, south of Melbourne, and ending with the Dawn Service at the War Memorial in Canberra, every double page is an intriguing account of what happens at each place at night.
In Melbourne we see a football game under lights, and information dotted around the page tells the readers about football, the grand final which attracts 100,000 fans and the inaugural women's AFL played in 2017. In Adelaide, The Heights Observatory is shown with information about the Milky Way and the wannabe astronomers who visit. Near Hobart the Southern Aurora can sometimes be seen and information about this event is given. Broome, Alice Springs, Brisbane and Perth are represented with night time events and included are things like the 'deckie' in Darwin, New Year's Eve on Sydney Harbour, crocodile watching on the Daintree, the story of the Min Min light.
Each double page has a bold illustration of the event and information can be found supplementing the image. Children will be intrigued with the facts given and ask further questions while poring over the illustrations, seeking out the Southern Cross in the night sky on each page, while seeing where Banjo the dog is hidden. A double page at the end gives more information about the Southern Cross, what flags it appears on and how to find true south using the pointers of the cross. This book will encourage many children to go outside and look at the night sky.
Fran Knight