A is for Australia by Frane Lessac

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Walker Books, 2015. ISBN 9781922179760
(Age: 7+) Australia, Iconic places, Cities, Rural landscapes. Frane's naive style of painting is used again in this new offering from Walker Books. Subtitled, A factastic tour, it gives younger readers a taste of some well known places in Australia, giving information accompanied by maps and pictures in an A-Z format. It is easy to point out some obvious omissions, but selecting just 26 of the places that are representative of Australia would be very difficult, and makes an interesting exercise with children to work out what they would include.
Accuracy has taken second place to impression as a quick overview is all that is offered for younger readers. The selection includes the Nullarbor, Bondi Beach, Kakadu, Uluru, as well as lesser known physical features, Wave Rock, Rottness Island, Coober Pedy and so on. The range is tantalisingly thought provoking. Just what would I include? And why this and not that? Again an interesting class activity.
Each selection in the main covers a double page with lots of odd little bits of information given placed around the picture. So on Coober Pedy, for example, the subtitle tells us that this is the largest opal mining town in the world, then the pictures represent the open cut method of extracting the opal, and the home beneath the surface. Information is given about opals, why people live underground, when golf is played and who the traditional owners are. Some less well known places will be new to readers, Qui Qui, a sheep station in Queensland, Exmouth and Yallingup in Western Australia, for example. The book covers much of Australia and although the map under A is a bit dismissive of South Australia, it does serve the needs of the book, but I would imagine a teacher will have a map of Australia somewhere at hand to use with the class. For younger readers this will be a treat of information and pictures to ponder.
Fran Knight