Tuesday, 5 May 2015

A-Z of Convicts in Van Dieman's Land by Simon Barnard

The CBCA shortlist is a good way for schools and libraries to stock up on good quality Australian non-fiction.

The A-Z of Convicts fits this bill beautifully. Presented in an oversized hardback book with generous illustrations loaded with details, A-Z of Convicts packs in a lot of interesting information.

Barnard covers every conceivable convict topic from absconders to prostitution, bushrangers to tattoos. He explores their jobs, work conditions, punishments, how they lived and spent their leisure time.

The illustrations are based on records from the time. Barnard has included the convicts physical features (height, hair colour, tattoos etc) as described on their official records .

He also uses architectural plans to show cut-out diorama's of the ships, buildings & rooms common to this world.

The pages have an old-style look, but the actual pictures are crips, clean and easy to pour over. There is a glossary, a table of weights and measures and an extensive bibliography at the back.

Barnard grew up in Launceston, Tasmania. He obviously feels a close connection to his islands' history as this book has all the markings of a labour of love.

Suitable for 8+ readers, although some of the information will be better suited to an older age group.

1 comment:

  1. This is so interesting! I recently did a course on Coursera called Australian Literature: a Rough Guide and this would be great to look at as they looked at some of the writings on prisoners lives and spoke of Van Diemen's Land. I particularly enjoyed the poem Convict's Tour of Hell. I shall keep a look out for this one!

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