Published: 1st June 2018
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Format: Hardback picture book (borrowed from the library)
Every journey is perilous, every situation heartbreaking. Every refugee is a person forced by famine or war or fear to leave their home, their families, their friends and all they know. Children have travelled on the waves of migration to the shores of Australia for tens of thousands of years. This book tells some of their stories.
Waves is a narrative non-fiction book about the waves of migration to the shores of Australia.
Waves by Donna Rawlins and illustrated by Heather Potter and Mark Jackson is a powerful picture book that seeks to educate its readers of the many world explorers, merchants, convicts, migrants and refugees that have travelled to Australia. Waves holds no bars as it seeks to illustrate the stark realities these travellers experienced including, but not limited too, the dangers of the unknown from rough seas, to unknown lands, families left behind, children dying on boats from sickness and disease, actual pirates kidnapping women and children, the pain of leaving home behind … The experiences are as unique and endless as the people and cultures they represent. Waves covers a wide expanse of time, with the first ‘recording’ beginning 50 000 years ago and the most recent entry being the early 2000s.
If you are not an Indigenous Australian, your family have, at some stage, come to Australia from across the waves …
Walker Books Australia have opted not to go for a shiny, glossy cover for Waves, a decision that ultimately gives the book a rough, textual feeling that heightens the reader’s experience of the book itself.
The endpapers feature layered illustrations; waves, layered upon a faint world map, with fifteen different types of vessels refugees and immigrants have used to get to Australia from the beginning of time. Under each small image, a child’s name is printed that correspondences to a double-page spread featured within the book. There is also a time stamp referencing the time period that the child’s experience is from and the time the ships were predominately used.
Anak (50 000 years earlier than now), Maarter (early 1700s), Jalak (mid 1700s), Henry (late 1780s), Finola (1820s), Martha (1840s), Nianzu (1850s), Karim(1870s), Bridget (1900s), Harry(1940s), Olga(1940s),Marina(1950s), Cornelia (1960s), Hau (1970s), Abdul (2000s).
Walker Books Australia has used these endpapers extremely clever, as not only do they serve as an introduction to the book itself, they exist as a snapshot of time and visual aid for what the reader is about to learn. I particularly like that Rawlins has included such a vast time period and the true multi-cultural experience of people from all over the world and their experiences and reasons for travelling to Australia. This creates a non-biased, and all-encompassing text and educational tool. The end result is an unbiased, text that seeks to teach understanding and empathy from a young age. For this reason alone, I believe Waves proves itself to be a significant text that belongs in every classroom and every child’s home library within Australia.
Waves is set up as a series of double-page spreads covering a particular experience and time period as people travelled (both legally and illegally) to Australia throughout history. Covering a comprehensive time frame from 50 000 years ago to the early 2000s, Waves is ambitious, but I would argue, a successful text that gives an overview of the migration and immigration patterns to Australia. It seeks to promote understanding and cultural awareness, which teaching children about the world, and Australia’s, history.
Each double-page spread features a bleak beige background, allowing Potter and Jackson’s illustrations and Rawlins text to shine. Each double-page spread is broken up and dedicated to the 15 types of vessels used by refugees to arrive in Australia. It’s worth noting the unusual placement of the book’s page numbers – they exist only on the side-edge of the right-hand double-page spread.
If you are not an Indigenous Australian, your family have, at some stage, come to Australia from across the waves. The characters in this book are fictitious, but the types of journeys they take in these stories are very real.
Lastly, at the end of the book, Rawlins has included an additional two pages of information regarding the history that inspired the characters and their stories.
Waves , albeit ambitious, is a powerful book that seeks to teach, explain and understand the experiences of travellers, convicts, migrants and refugees from the beginning of time. It’s a book that seeks to illustrate cultural diversity and understanding. It belongs amongst the bookshelves of every school and library in Australia and has the true power to change, enlighten and inspire entire generations.
Waves by Donna Rawlins and illustrated by Heather Potter and Mark Jackson has been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Eve Pownall Award for 2019. Winners will be announced on Friday 16th August 2019
To purchase a copy of Waves by Donna Rawlins, Heather Potter and Mark Jackson, visit the following online retailers:
Walker Books Australia | Amazon AUS | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks | QBD |
To learn more about Donna Rawlins, visit the following social media pages:
To learn more about Heather Potter and Mark Jackson, visit the following social media pages: