- Publication date:1 February 2022
- Genre: historical fiction
- Age guide: Middle Readers, 9+
For Finding Home
By Gary Crew & Susy Boyer
Rich and beautiful, Gary Crew’s text is redolent with the sounds and colours of the Australian bush. This picture book for older children is an ode and an obituary to the indigenous landscape, much of which was destroyed by white colonists.
Ignorance and selfishness can destroy the things we love and value most – the child whose parents don’t value his differences, the beauty of wild nature – and this story offers the reader a metaphor for the greater destruction of the environment through thoughtless acts.
Cover designed by Grant Gittus.
Jenny Mounfield –
First appearing as a short story, The Returning Tree in Ford Street’s
popular anthology, Trust Me!, Crew’s heart-wrenching tale of place
and belonging has been reborn.
Finding Home is a story about a boy who has journeyed from
England with his parents to make a better life in Australia. The boy,
unable to adapt to this strange new land, finds solace in books.
Through his reading he learns about the cockatoos that inhabit the
lone gum standing proud at the centre of his father’s field. Every
evening he watches the birds return in their hundreds, as they’ve
done for a hundred years. Not sharing his son’s sense of wonder, the
boy’s father cuts down the tree. Watching in horror, the boy sees the
cockatoos return at day’s end, flying around and around until they fall
to the ground, exhausted. The decision this event prompts in the boy
may not be to every reader’s taste, but it must be noted that it has
never been in the multi-award winning Crew’s nature to pull punches.
‘Around and around they flew, crying in confusion.
Screaming in anger. Their tree was gone. Their home.’
None of the original story’s impact has been lost due to its
metamorphosis. In fact, the story’s more compact form has increased
its resonance. Crew’s strength is his ability to invoke powerful images
and emotions in the mind of his readers. The image of the lone gum
and the sense of loss stayed with me long after the last page was
Intended as a metaphor for the way colonisation impacted Australia
and its inhabitants, this huge story snug in its small skin is far more
personal than that.
Boyer’s deceptively simple, yet detailed coloured pencil and water
colour wash illustrations bring Crew’s characters to life. Her use of
muted colours and finely drawn facial features that depict perfectly
each individual’s emotion is a visual treat.
Not one for young readers, Finding Home is a thought-provoking
read for older children and adults that, I’m sure, will become a useful
resource in the classroom.