Emma Allen (text) and Lisa Coutts (illustrator), The Great Book-Swapping Machine, National Library of Australia, September 2021, 40 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9780642279736
The Great Book-Swapping Machine is an imaginative tale about an outback community library bringing people together. When a piece of ‘space junk’ lands in Fabio’s yard, he’s frustrated that it won’t fly, but soon discovers an even better use for it. With the help of a neighbour, Fabio sets it up as a book swapping machine. Diverse members of the community use the machine to swap books, start clubs and bridge differences. When the Space Agency comes to take the junk away, the community must rally to keep their library. Readers may be able to predict the outcome, but there is a surprise in store.
This book includes non-fiction backmatter explaining a brief history of books, printing, and libraries. It also includes information on the National Library of Australia (who published this book) and street libraries.
The illustrations by Lisa Coutts are bright and playful, with a childlike quality. There are little details and humorous elements to enjoy on each page, and readers will notice many uniquely Australian features.
The story will most appeal to kindy age kids and older, especially those with a love of books. It would make a great addition to a classroom or school library.
Reviewed by Laura Holloway