Book Review: Mallee Sky, by Jodi Toering & Tannya Harricks

An extremely timely and beautiful picture book about the effects of drought and climate change in Australia’s own “sunset country”, the Mallee.

By
A timely book about drought, farming and the interminable wait for the rain.
Overall
3

Jodi Toering knows the Mallee. She was born there and grew up on a wheat farm outside the small town of Beulah, Victoria, about 400 kilometres north west of Melbourne. She is now a teacher in Ballarat, Victoria and still lives on a block of land surrounded by the bush. You get the impression with Mallee Sky that she is writing from the heart.

This is the story of the Australian bush as the fickle seasons change, or don’t change as is often the case. It is about the highs and lows of the people who are responsible for putting food on our plates. The story gives us an insight into the sense of despair the farmers have as they wonder if the drought will ever end.

Illustrations by Tannya Harricks, done in oil, evoke the Australian bush. They have the colours of the land and the sky, and have the familiar images of silos, galahs, gums and even the iconic hills hoist. They are a perfect addition to the text and help the reader to not only see, but also feel the land and the weather.

Mallee Sky is the story that all too many families who live on the land in Australia are experiencing at the moment. We city dwellers can empathise but not totally understand the continuous heat and despair the farmers experience. This story gives us a small glimpse into what their life is like.

This book is truly Australian and keeps the plight of our farmers firmly in the forefront of our consciousness, as it should be. It is all too easy to take the food we see in the supermarket for granted.

Mallee Sky is a lovely book to read to our young Australians to help them get a sense of places they may not as yet have experienced.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Walker Books Australia
Released: February 2019
RRP: $24.99 hardcover

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