Coral Vass (text), and Christina Huynh (illustrator), Grandma’s Treasured Shoes, National Library of Australia, March 2019, 36 pp, RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9780642279354
This unique picture book was commissioned and published by the National Library of Australia. The illustrations by Christina Huynh are delightful, with a smooth chalk-like finish perfectly complementing the whimsical poem which forms the text.
Some lines are off-beat, or form only half-rhymes, which does occasionally detract from the flow of the text, but overall this is a sweet book that provides a pathway to discussing refugees and Australian history in a child-friend way.
There is a mix of close up and broader illustrations which reflect the personal nature of the story (Grandma’s journey to Australia as a refugee) with the context of history (for example, an aerial illustration of “a land far away”).
Given the content, this book lends itself to being read aloud so that the reader and audience can talk about the story and there is a non-fiction spread at the end of the book with more detailed information about “Australia’s Refugees”. The non-fiction spread is fairly in-depth and an adult will need to work through it with children as the vocabulary will be challenging.
Reviewed by Jessica Dowling