Burning the bails: the story of the Ashes by Krista Bell

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Ill. by Ainsley Walters. One Day Hill, 2013. ISBN 9780987131980.
(Age: 7+) Australian History, Cricket. Krista Bell offers younger readers a ficitonalsied telling of the burning of the bails which led to the Ashes, the name given to the series of cricket matches between England and Australia. Within the brief story of the Clarke family, the events leading up to Lady Janet inviting the burning of the bails as a joke, then finding a small perfume bottle to contain the ashes will intrigue younger readers. Bell tells the tale through the eyes of Lady Janet's then younger son, six year old Russell, ensuring it will appeal to that age group.
Beginning with the Clarke family's voyage back to Australia after their Grand Tour of Europe in 1882, they met the English Cricket team, a mix of professional and amateur cricketers coming to Australia. Romance developed between their captain and Lady Janet's companion, and the whole family being cricket mad, an invitation to stay for Christmas at their home in Sunbury, Victoria was eagerly accepted. The recent loss by the English Cricket team to an Australian cricket team had prompted a journalist in London saying that British cricket had died and was to be cremated, so starting the idea of the ashes, to be made actual by Lady Janet's actions.
Naive pictures of the events in bold, arresting colours accompany the text and photographs lent by the Clarke family are used as endpapers as well as through the many pages of information given in the last half of the book.
This tale will add to the array of picture books for middle primary students being published at the moment, on various topics about Australia's history suited to the Australian Curriculum.
Fran Knight