Fiona Levings, Now and Then, Forty South Publishing, November 2019, 32 pp., RRP $25.95 (hbk), ISBN: 9780648675730
There is a little wooden house in our town.
It has been there for a while.
Now, it is Jem’s home.
Then, it was Doug’s home.
Now and Then is a non-fiction picture book that invites children to compare the modern world to that of their grandparents. Tasmanian based author/illustrator Fiona Levings was inspired to write this book after an elderly gentleman, Doug visited her family home and explained how he had once lived there too as a child. Levings then began to consider the parallels between her own young son’s life and that of Doug’s childhood.
The text is simple and each full-colour, double page spread compares the lives, living conditions and activities of both boys, eighty years apart. We see the same house, in the same small town but the reader soon discovers the enormity of the changes to this small Tasmanian town through Levings’ beautifully detailed illustrations.
Aimed at children 3-9 years of age, young readers are asked to consider how young Doug’s childhood echoes their own, how the depicted worlds have changed and in which ways they have remained the same. As the author so eloquently puts it herself. ‘Our World has changed a lot since the 1940s but kids are kids and creeks are creeks. Some things never change.’
Now and Then is a fascinating picture book either to share at home with young readers or as a great classroom resource for exploring themes of community, change and continuity.
Reviewed by Lisa Mercer