There is nothing like a spanner in the works, something that makes us take a step back and think hard about our circumstances, something that challenges us and the way we think and view ourselves. Here is a book that is a spanner, an effective one, a tough one that doesn't shy away from realities that many refuse to consider or want to know. Are you up for that challenge?
AUSTRALIA TO Z by Armin Greder, (Allen & Unwin, ISBN: 978 1 76011 3186, 2016), is in my 'picture book toolbox'. It is a tool to help me create brave stories, to not be shy from truths or to gloss over facts. It is a picture book that calls us to be brave, honest and to get down to business. Yet it is an alphabet book, one that hides it's intense honesty behind simplicity that can't help but draw you in.
This is not a book for the very young, it certainly isn't designed to teach your toddler their A to Z's. It is, perhaps Greder's attempt to re-educate older readers about our Australian A to Z's, our culture, what it has become, and who we see ourselves as.
I LOVE IT!! (sorry to shout).
Thank you Armin Greder for creating a book of simple truth. It will stay forever on my bookshelf, and it will continue to be taken down and shown to all and sundry. It has wit, it has grit, it has humour, it has sadness and it has grief, yet it is done with reverence and slighty discomforting honesty.
Greder's illustrations stay true to his wonderful strong and energetic style. His use of block colour and ink creating simple, almost 1950's reminiscent colour play, drawing the older audience in. There is nowhere to hide. The images are blunt and to the point. My favourite pages, if I dare to choose as they are all so brilliant, are A & B: Aborigine and Boat People, R: Rupert, W: Waltzing Matilda and the final double page spread of Advance Australia Fair.
This is a 'to have' book. Ask at your local bookstore if they have it and if not, why not? Then if you have to order it in, do so, then show them the book before you leave. This is essential reading, our basic, truthful Australia A-Z.
Whilst not a book for younger readers, this would be a great book to share with discerning middle grade and high school students and adults.
Be brave. Get your copy now.
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Books that need to read, handled, loved and shared. Books that bring joy, hope, challenges and journeys.