Shearing Time

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Allison Paterson (text), Shane McGrath (illus.), Shearing Time, Big Sky Publishing,  1 March 2017, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781925520088

This is a gentle, educational picture book about a farm girl’s experience of the shearing season. City kids would probably enjoy this insight into rural life; particularly the opportunity to go zooming around paddocks chasing sheep on a motorbike.

There is a sense of generational history in the book. The young girl narrator tells us that the dogs know how to round up the sheep because Grandpa trained them so well. There’s also an image of the shearing team of the olden days arriving by horse and cart.

The girl narrator also gets to play a role in every aspect of the shearing which would appeal to the target readership. We see her sweeping up the wool, playing on the chute where the sheep are deposited after shearing, sweeping the droppings off the floor, helping to bale up the wool, and serving morning tea and lunch for the shearers.

I loved the cross expression on the girl’s face when Dad makes her go home during morning tea so she won’t hear the shearer’s swearing.

There is comprehensive back matter on the final page, detailing the history of shearing in Australia and including a glossary.

I think this book would work well in mid to late primary classes either as a stepping off point for studying history or people and society. It would be particularly good to get city kids thinking about other ways of life. For upper years, it could be a good companion text to something like Lorraine Marwood’s excellent junior verse novel Star Jumps which also examines Australian farming life.

Reviewed by Heather Gallagher

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