While we get our winter coats out of storage here in Ireland, our Australian friends are looking forward to summer and road trips in the outback. Let’s see what Mia Montagliani made of this roadtrip-inspired picture book.
On the Way to Nana’s cover illustration of three children playing on a bulging boab and a yellow jeep in the Australian outback foretells an exciting road adventure ahead. Indeed, the authors, Frances and Lindsay Haji-Ali, take us on a journey inspired by their own road trips, with their children in tow, from Broome to the tiny outback town of Wyndham to visit their Nana Phyllis.
The book incorporates elements that only a story inspired by true events can give, such as photographs of the authors’ family and a mud map of their journey in the Kimberley.
The story is simple – the children count backward from 10 to 1 as they encounter many new interesting sights, animals and people. Young readers between four and eight years of age will love the animals and situations and will also relate to the children’s goal – to reach Nana! The children are not impatient though – they enjoy the sights and activities along the way. This story could be read to children in preparation for long (or short) road trips to encourage their interest in their surroundings.
Rhyme and repetition give the narrative an almost sing-along quality. Creative parents could easily add a catchy tune to the words to make a fun nursery rhyme.
The illustrations capture the Kimberley landscape in a fun yet reverent way; David Hardy beautifully depicts bulbous boabs, brumbies, waterfalls, brolgas and much more, in rich, saturated, earthy tones. The animals are lovingly illustrated with heartwarming details.
David Hardy is an indigenous artist with more than eight years of animation experience with Walt Disney Animation Studios, having worked on 12 animated feature films. I hope to see more from him.
The simple, joyful story and gorgeous pictures make this an ideal counting book for parents and teachers looking to give young readers in primary school a fun, fresh perspective on Australiana.
- Author: Frances Haji-Ali, Lindsay Haji-Ali
- Illustrator: David Hardy
- ISBN: 9781925360301
- Publisher: Magabala Books
- Age range: 4+ years