Larrikin lane by Kate Darling

cover image

Ill. by Ben Wood. Mates series. Scholastic, 2013. ISBN 978 1 86291 989 1.
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Australian stories. Another in the Omnibus series, Mates: Great Australian Yarns, will immediately appeal to those who are looking for a short chapter book with illustrations that will engage their minds and delight their eyes. This series has proved popular and are often found bunched together in a box in the library for easy access, if they are not already checked out. For teachers wanting a set of reliable stories, illustrated by witty and erudite artists, then this is a great series to have in the classroom, providing a group of books for kids to read, a series to promote or a group to show parents some of the most recent literature for their offspring.
Using themes set in the past or in a rural setting, with words some kids may not have come across before, the books showcase some of the things which may not be readily accessed by our city bound kids, growing up in suburbs which have little open space.
So with Larrikin Lane, the illustration on the opening page contrasts markedly with the illustration on the next. The first shows a farmhouse with animals and sheds, and a dead end road out front. Over the page we see the farmhouse today, surrounded by houses that look all the same, the sheds, windmill and dead end road, gone, the only vestige left are the magnificent trees. In Larrikin Lane, the next door neighbour does not like the family in the old farmhouse keeping goats and sheep. He is meticulous about his garden but the goat nibbles the rose bushes. His complaint to the local council means that an ultimatum is given, but events occur which change everyone's mind. A neat resolution rounds off a wry look at suburbs today.
Fran Knight