Patrick White

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Toni Brisland (text) & Anastasia Popp (illust.), Patrick White, Little Steps, July 2020, 68pp., RRP $16.94 (pbk), ISBN 9780648267379

Toni Brisland and Anastasia Popp’s biography of Australian author Patrick White is an excellent addition to the non-fiction shelves of school libraries. Brisland’s text sums up White’s life and work in clear informational style that would be ideal for upper primary and early secondary students who are interested in White or Australian history and literature. It would be invaluable for school projects on Australian authors or notable figures. 

This book is an ideal length to both give enough detail to go deeper than the surface facts and to keep it short enough not intimidate a more reluctant reader.  

Brisland has broken up the chapters according to themes of interest, including White’s early life, his interest in and connection to art, his service in World War II, and his involvement in a number of social causes and protests. This helps to keep the analysis concise and easy to follow without ever patronising young readers, even if the style is a little stilted at times. Brisland gives excellent context and clarification where needed, such as a little further information about the uranium mining that White protested against, without becoming too side-tracked from White’s life. A timeline, list of awards, and bibliography of White’s works are also included. 

Anastasia Popp’s lovely artwork breaks up the pages of text to give the book a visual appeal and adds a dimension to the reportage that gives it life. 

This book is going to be a fantastic resource for school libraries, and I know from my son’s grade five and six school projects on famous and inspirational Australians that a book like this would have been a great help. 

Reviewed by Emily Clarke 

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