The Great Expedition by Peter Carnavas

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New Frontier, 2011. ISBN 9781921042812.
(Age 5-7) Recommended. Picture book. In a whimsical story inspired by the journey of Bourke and Wills, Carnavas has a group of young explorers travelling across wild country to deliver a valuable parcel. Robert is the leader who is charged with the delivery by the senior officer. He is accompanied by Will, the navigator; Ivy, botanist, Henry biologist, and Lily the animal handler. The small party has to overcome many obstacles on the way and some of the expedition will not make it!
The story and illustrations are a delightful combination of humour and whimsy. Adults and children will have fun giggling at the situations that the team has to face and the traits of the team members. Ivy the botanist is seen lost in a daydream of flowers, Lily has to manage a difficult dog and a bug attacks Henry. Robert as leader has to make some difficult decisions while Will leads them to a bubbling waterhole. They will also come to realise that some of the journeys that they face as children require skill and courage, just like the early explorers.
Each double page spread tells the story of their adventures with the final showing the dangerous land (a playground) that they had traversed. There is a small paragraph about Burke and Wills on the back page.
Children will be introduced to a more formal way of using language, reminiscent of the times of Burke and Wills. Words like 'ramshackle', 'determination', 'biologist' etc. will increase their vocabulary and make this a memorable book for them. Each time I read this book I found more to smile about and think about. It is certainly a book with appeal that grows on the reader!
Pat Pledger