Tuesday, January 25, 2011

26th January Australia Day

It's Australia Day, a holiday in Australia, when Australians celebrate what is great about Australia and being Australian. It is celebrated on the 26th January because that is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of convict ships who came from England to settle at Sydney Cove in 1788. If you want picture books that look at this event, read The Peopling of Australia by Percy Trezise; An Uncommonly Fine Day by J.A.King or The First Fleet by Alan Boardman and Roland Harvey. These three books are old and out of print, but a good school library may still have copies.

The reality is that most Australian families celebrate Australia Day by going to the beach, getting together with friends for a barbecue or going to organised community events, such as the Ferrython, a Ferry Boat Race on Sydney Harbour. A picture book that is about this event is Fergus at the Race one of a series of books about Fergus the Ferry that is written by J.W. Noble and illustrated by Peter Townsend.

And lastly a picture book about spending Australia Day at the beach, Australia at the Beach. It is a long poem written by Max Fatchen which tells the story of a family's day at the beach with their friends. It is illustrated comically by Tom Jellett. It is told from a young girl's point of view. She is embarrassed by her younger brother, William who can't seem to do anything right...he loses his sandal, he takes off his bathers, he puts suncream on the lettuce instead of mayonnaise...As you read it, you will smile because most of us have been there:
... Then back to have our picnic.
We kneel on sandy knees.
Sausage rolls and sandwiches.
A chicken wing? Yes, please.

... Beach cricket now...How noisy.
We bowl and bat and shout.
Remember, I'm the umpire,
My finger's raised. You're out.

Such fun and perfect for a very hot day like this!

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