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Patrick White, Toni Brisland (author), Anastasia Popp (illus.), Little Steps Publishing, August 2020.
Patrick White wanted to be a writer when no one thought he should! This remarkable man, remembered for how poetically he described the Australian landscape and people in his many novels and plays, is the only Australian to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Learn all about the fascinating life of one of Australia’s greatest novelists in this beautifully illustrated biography written for school-aged children.
I haven’t come across a more engaging biography for middle to upper primary students than Patrick White! My own 10-year-old daughter fits perfectly into this target age bracket, and whilst fiction is more of her preferred literary choice, she readily admitted that a non-fiction book such as Patrick White is valuable to own and share amongst peers.
The story about his life has been penned by author, Toni Brisland, in such an easily accessible and manageable way; a straightforward, sequential flow that is broken up into short chapters with large-sized text formatted within the illustrated pages. What Toni Brisland revealed about the missing aspects of the school curriculum – her inspiration behind embarking on this project – is significant; “Patrick White is slipping into the past…” My daughter, for one, has been delighted to have the opportunity to learn about such an icon in Australia’s history, because these captivating forms of literature in her own school program seem few and far between. She, too, is an aspiring writer, just as Patrick White once was as a child. The ability to connect with the text has been invaluable, understanding Patrick’s early life as a writer is built upon with each significant event leading him to achieve his dreams.
From his wealthy family ancestry expecting he continue work on the Australian farm, to his early letter and play writing, and his troubled schooling days at an English boarding school. Still, writing called to him. Behind closed doors whilst working as a jackaroo, Patrick wrote three novels. He pursued his calling and returned to England, drawing upon his experiences and the people he met as inspiration for new pieces of literature. Each stepping stone, including his role as Intelligence Officer with the Royal Air Force and his humanitarian advocacy for the community’s rights, brought him to his critical acclamation of being the first, and only, Australian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Considering his challenges, his story is certainly a journey that is inspiring to the younger generations of today.
Just as Brisland describes Patrick White’s writing as “literary eloquence… mastery of characterisation… a great storyteller”, so too, has she successfully and eloquently presented the factual information in a style that reads like a narrative. As a whole package, Patrick White is an exquisite literary presentation. Beautifully supporting the words are Anastasia Popp’s stunning line and watercolour illustrations that blend idyllically in to the biographical account and Australian / English landscapes with their mix of earth tones and a rich, sophisticated colour palette. We love the way Popp has portrayed White as a humble and reflective yet prominent figure in all of his most important and varied roles.
Complete with a timeline of Patrick White’s achievements and milestones, and a list of notable awards, this attractively illustrated and welcoming literal account has a timeless appeal that will add significant value to any primary school classroom. A wonderful piece of literature that is sure to spark interest in finding more facts, photos, and some of the highly acclaimed works of one of the greatest novelists, Patrick White. Highly recommended.
Review by Romi Sharp.
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Patrick White is available to purchase at Little Steps Publishing | Booktopia.
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Come on a historical, literary journey with Toni Brisland and her stunning non-fiction book, Patrick White, with special appearances at the following media sources…
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