Alison Lloyd (text) and Terry Denton (illustrator), The Upside-Down History of Down Under, Penguin Books, October 2018, 304 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN
The history of Australia, from Gondwana until Federation in 1901, is often stranger than fiction. The Upside-down History of Down Under, written by Alison Lloyd and illustrated by Terry Denton is a wonderful introduction to our diverse, unpredictable and very, very, very old country.
The book is similar in size to a novel, rather than the traditional larger format of most children’s non-fiction, however what it lacks in size it makes up with rich content, presenting bite-sized chunks of text, accompanied by Terry Denton’s inimitable illustrations. It also includes maps, diagrams and photos which will keep young readers absorbed.
As you would expect of a book that covers 200 million years of history, Lloyd focuses on giving readers tempting tastes of key places, people and events, rather than providing indepth recounts. This results in a book that will not only engage young readers but will also provide teachers with a way to capture students’ imagination when introducing deeper studies into Australian history topics.
Suitable for historians aged 7-12 years, The Upside-down History of Down Under will keep even reluctant readers engaged, and the extensive teachers’ notes which are available on Alison Lloyd’s website offers easy ways to draw students into the amazing (true) story of Australia.
Reviewed by Kay Oddone