Libby Hathorn (text) and Julie Vivas (illustrator), The Tram to Bondi Beach, HarperCollins Children’s Books, January 2021, 32 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781460759660
An anniversary publication from two well-loved picture book creators presents readers with an in-road into national history and opportunity to connect with older generations. Young Keiran aspires to join agile older boy, Saxon, as paperboy on the Bondi tram. Contrasting with the book’s setting of the 1930’s Depression, his ambition is for the joy of travel, that first glimpse of blueness on the way to the beach and this story depicts but does not dwell on the hard-times of the era.
Vivas’ fluid watercolours and golden light capture and extend scenes beautifully and Hathorn’s text, with its (longer) 1980’s word count, is packed with delightful descriptive sentences. This story of courage and friendship can also be approached as a history of modern Sydney with prompts for discussion on city development and lifestyles of the day.
Reviewed by Liz Anelli