Penguin AustraliaAugust 2020
This is just a delightful and heart-warming picture book which is based on the true story of how small rural towns with dwindling populations have opened their community and hearts to welcome refugees and re-invigorate their townships.
The narrator is Milly who loves her town and her netball team but is sad that her team is shrinking as her friends’ families move to seek life in the city. After learning about refugees at school resourceful Milly comes up with an idea – she’ll write a letter inviting refugees to come to her lovely town to settle and help it survive. Her supportive family go one better and they all create a promotional video invitation – jobs and houses, country life and a great community.
And the plan works! What a thrill to see your endangered community not only rejuvenated but enriched with a diverse and vibrant influx of newcomers!
Gwynne’s text is simple but highly effective as it emphasises Milly’s passion for her home and Tony Flowers brings Gong Gong to life in rich detail with his fabulous illustrations – including in-jokes like including his own motorbikes and VW beetle as well as his family’s bakery! The end papers are just gorgeous (my kiddos know my love of great endpapers so well!) and fully realise the complete journey of Milly’s plan.
This would be a terrific read-aloud and one which will generate much rich discussion and inspire deep learning around the complex issue of small-town Australia’s plight as well as that of refugees struggling to find their place in our wonderful country.
Highly recommended for readers from around 7 years upwards.