14 April 2009

Aussie Kid Heroes

by Dianne Bates. Illustrated by Marjory Gardner.

Interactive Publications. Australian, Children's non-Fiction. Paperback, rrp $24.95

Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Dianne Bates has compiled a well-researched and excellent mix of entries for her excellent Aussie Kid Heroes. As the name suggests, the book is all about true, amazing and astonishing feats of heroism, courage, strength, abilities and other admirable traits, of children. They come under twelve different headings with a rich bibliography for anyone interested in further reading or research.

It opens with an heroic story from Brave Kids, about sixteen-year-old Grace Bussell and Aboriginal stockman Sam Isaacs who in 1876, saved 40 people that were shipwrecked on the West Australian coast.

Inventors and Designers includes, along with lots of other true tales, the story of a 14 year-old flag designer who was joint winner in a competition in 1901, in which over 30,000 people entered. An 11 year-old invented a Pool Alarm System, and a 12 year-old devised an electronically operated watering system to protect trees from frost bite. To make cooking easier for disabled people, a nine-year-old created a three-geared, Super Turbo Mixer – an automatic pot stirrer that stirs cooking pots of liquid.

Included are the modern success stories of Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Kate Richie and Claudia Karvan. There is the tale of a one-handed pianist, sport stories, and tales of enterprising kids that made great wealth from ideas they’d thought up. There is the moving and inspirational story of disabled champion athlete, Anne Curie, born without legs and a deformed right hand, who till four years-old was a State ward in a children’s home.

Then there are Caring Kids, a series of moving entries about heroic children who became the caregivers either to large families, and/or sick or disabled parents or siblings.

This is a rich, informative collection of modern and older stories that will interest, inspire and move readers deeply about children, known and unknown, who left their mark in some extraordinary and individual way on the world. Full of interesting facts, not a word is wasted within the 118 pages. This is a priceless addition to any bookshelf.

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