My Place delivers an enduring lesson in Australian history, charting the settlement in Botany Bay and the displacement of the aboriginal inhabitants by an English penal colony in the late 18th century. The child storytellers charm with vignettes of marriages and celebrations and they shock with chronicles of convict labor, evictions, war, illness and poverty. The reverse chronological order of this book is ingenious, as are the changing maps that move the reader back in time. The reader is compelled to attempt it again from back to front. It is an enchanting book that encourages study and thought. Book of the Year selection by the Children's Book Council of Australia and IBBY Honor Book.
School Library Journal
A glimpse into life on the same piece of Australian land as it changes from rural to urban over a 200-year period. Moving in ten-year jumps from 1988 back to 1788, each double-page spread surveys the same plot from the viewpoints of children who live there. Each boldly states: ``This is my place,'' describes what life is like then, and includes an intricately drawn map, labeled to help readers spot the changes that have taken place in the area. The young people come from all sorts of families, wealthy as well as working class. Quite a bit of historical and cultural information is painlessly conveyed through this intriguing format; even environmental concerns are explored as the quality of the creek's water declines because of polluting waste from a tannery and woolen mill. In the last entry, readers meet young Barangaroo and his family, Aboriginal inhabitants of the land, and the book ends pensively and somewhat ironically with his grandmother's words, ``We've always belonged to this place . . .For ever and ever''--but readers know what the future holds. One comes away from the book with the feeling that Australia's people are an ethnically diverse, hard-working bunch who inhabit a country that developed in similar ways to the United States. Rawlins' lively, colorful crayon drawings surround the text supplying period details and evoking each child's sense of belonging in this not-so-unique place. Specialized and universal at the same time, this complements the Provensens' Shaker Lane (Viking, 1987) and Renata Von Tscharner and Ronald L. Fleming's New Providence: A Changing Cityscape (HBJ, 1987). A book that merits and rewards close scrutiny. --Ellen Fader, Westport Public Library, CT