The Big Book of Australian History
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The illustrations by Ainsley Walters are truly beautiful and a perfect match for the text. Need I say more? You can read about our celebrations for this book and find some teaching notes here.
How I wish more books like this were around when I was in in primary school! I have been loving using this book with our early childhood classes at school and it will certainly be used to start the year off with discussions about Australia Day. Teachers notes are here. This book is gentle, whimsical and takes us through an Australian year.
BIG BOOK OF AUSTRALIAN HISTORY
I adore both these books and the production quality is outstanding — perfect books for gift giving. Another classic which really every home should own.
The television production based on the book was also fabulous. Set in Morocco and Sydney, this wordless picture book is stunning on so many levels. Have a glance at the teaching notes here. The stories focus on a young Greek-Australian boy, Taha, who goes on a road trip with his Mum, visiting Australian regional towns and cities.
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On the way he learns about the people, history and geography of each place he visits. Phil Kettle is a prolific writer and his books are always engaging, fast paced and entertaining. You can read my review of his TooCool series here. This one is oh so Australian and I was lucky enough to launch it — which you can read about here. This is a gorgeous read aloud picture book and a firm favourite in our house. You can read more about Leonie and her books here. Oh glory me where do I start with this one? Dan read this book every. You can read more about the book and Katrina here.
There are SO many books by Alison Lester which I could list here but these two are my personal favourites. You can read more about Ambelin Kwaymullina here. You can read my review of this book here. Read more about Narelle Oliver and her stunning books here. First published in , this was re-published to deserved acclaim in There is a famous passage in the preface to the poems of Adam Lindsay Gordon written by the novelist Marcus Clarke in , 10 years after Gordon took his own life.
In it, Clarke remarks "the Poet of our desolation begins to comprehend why free Esau loved his heritage of desert sand better than all the bountiful richness of Egypt". Clarke was not much of a believer. But when he wanted to explain Gordon's relationship with the landscape of this continent, he turned by instinct to the language of the Bible. In her cultural history Marilyn Lake discusses iterations of the Bible. Credit: David J. Describing "the subtle charm of this fantastic land of monstrosities", he could possibly have looked to the imagery of Homer or Herodotus.
Clarke was writing his preface from the relative comfort of the State Library of Victoria where he had more books to choose from than most of his contemporaries.
But twice he refers to Gordon's world as a "wilderness", the word that scripture uses to describe the place where Moses and the chosen people struggled for 40 years as well as the one where Jesus and Satan struggled for 40 days. Clarke lived in a part of the world that the Bible does not even imagine. Indeed, Meredith Lake points out that our part of the world does not rate much mention in the history of Christian theology until, in the 5th century, Augustine's City of God refers to "men on the opposite side of the earth where the sun rises when it sets to us".
Even so, Clarke saw the world through Bible-coloured glasses. Although she does not tell this specific story, it is the kind of scenario that Lake elucidates in her superb account of the impact of the Bible on Australia as well as, to a lesser extent, the impact of Australia on the Bible. The Bible in Australia is an endlessly fascinating book, told with a rich understanding of the strange ways of the human family.
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Lake brings a generosity of both mind and spirit to this vast story. She skilfully avoids becoming the prisoner of those who are themselves imprisoned by the Bible. The Bible can be used to create two kinds of jails. One is the sort of gormless fundamentalism that substitutes the book for God, such that the Bible is used to justify all sorts of anger, control and authoritarianism. The second jail is the one that disparages the Bible as a load of claptrap with very little basis in fact.
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These groups have more in common than they would care to admit; they are both closed to the exquisite subtlety of a book that evolved over centuries as humans have attempted to describe what is beyond words. Neither of them is open to developing the skill required to understand this shifting and beguiling text.
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