Audrey of the Outback by Christine Harris, illustrated by Ann James
The book we should have selected for our Family Book Club (except we didn’t discover it in time). This find is thanks to Give Your Child The World, and it’s such a fun book. I’m going to be doing a round-the-world kindergarten theme with my daughter this year, and this is on my list now to read to her when we reach Australia in our schedule.
Audrey reminded me a bit of Ramona Quimby, and then writing this review I see the publisher’s description compares her to both Ramona and Pippi Longstocking. I always love it when I see someone else agrees with my comparisons. 🙂
Audrey is not quite as … troublesome as Ramona (I can’t compare her to Pippi, as it’s been too long since I read that book) but she’s curious and adventurous and it’s easy to imagine her as a Ramona if she was being raised in that time and place. And vice versa.
There’s a glossary of unfamiliar terms in the back of the book, although they were all easy to figure out from the context of the story. While there are hints of the challenges of living in the Outback in the 1930s, overall the tone is gentle enough that I wouldn’t hesitate to read it to younger children. Each chapter is fairly short as well, and I think it’d make for an good early chapter book if you’re new to reading those aloud.
There are two more Audrey books, and happily for me my library has them all. Highly recommended for early elementary age as a readaloud – it was a delightful story.
This is the first book in a series, and is followed by Audrey Goes to Town and Audrey’s Big Secret. All three can also be purchased in combined volume for Kindle or Nook, although I’m not sure how well the illustrations translate in an electronic format. They’re not essential to the story, but they are very sweet.
Audrey is a 1930s outback girl with a lot on her mind. Her dad has gone away to work; her brother Price thinks he’s too old for games; and little Dougie likes pretending to be a bird. So together with her best friend Stumpy, Audrey ponders some of life’s big questions—like whether being a swaggie (or bush traveler, as explained in the handy glossary) is lonelier than being a girl, and whether it’s better to be a sheep or a cow. Determined, mischievous, imaginative, and inquisitive, Audrey is Australia’s response to Pippi Longstocking and Ramona Quimby.
Title: Audrey of the Outback
Author: Christine Harris, illustrated by Ann James
Category: Juvenile fiction
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