Book Review: The Great Expedition by Peter Carnavas

This book review was originally written for publication for tiny and little- Issue 4

Peter Carnavas has created an innovative and thoughtful book in The Great Expedition. It combines fact with fiction, and aligns an adult’s world alongside a child’s world.

The Great Expedition is essentially about a group of children who cross the local playground. However, in their eyes it is an adventure as epic and iconic as Burke and Wills’.

This is a story of five children. Each of them has a special role to play as they cross the playground to deliver a cake from Mum to Grandma. Their story is inspired by the story of Burke and Wills, the first Europeans to cross Australia from south to north.

If you were to read the text alone, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were actually reading about a group of real explorers who deal with expeditions, officers, parcels, duties, ambushes, confrontations, rugged terrain, lack of water, dangerous creatures and team members who don’t survive the journey.

The adorable and amusing illustrations tell a different story though. The Senior officer is the mother; the parcel is a cupcake; the rugged terrain is the playground; the nearby waterhole is a water fountain and the ambush and confrontation is actually Ivy’s mum dragging Ivy away to her dancing lesson.

The Great Expedition will open a parent’s eyes to the way in which their children view the world. A visit to the park may seem casual and carefree to an adult but to a child it is highly important, full of adventure and fraught with danger. It is a place to explore new things, negotiate with others and solve problems.

Peter Carnavas has successfully made this historic account accessible to very young readers and pre-readers in an innovative and entertaining way. It is a wonderful introduction to Australia’s early settlement history for children.

Book Details:

Author/Illustrator: Peter Carnavas


Format: Hardback

Publisher: New Frontier Publishing, May 2011

RRP: $24.95 (aud)

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