Cyclone by Jackie French
Published by Scholastic Australia
A long way from the adventures of Baby Wombat, award-winning duo Jackie French and Bruce Whatley have produced another masterpiece of illustrated verse, from their series of educational stories for mid primary readers.
Following on the footsteps of the thought-provoking Fire and Flood, Cyclone does not shy away from the horror and devastation caused by natural disaster.
In this book, French draws on her own personal experience with the aftermath of the legendary Cyclone Tracy. Her masterful verse and Whatley’s documentary style sketches and paintings, evoke a story so engaging, it is a valuable history lesson for all, and a reminder of the spirit of the Darwin people in Christmas 1974.
Initially on opening the book, I questioned the author’s rationale in tackling a fairly serious and depressing subject for children. Think however of classics like Sedako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (by Eleanor Coerr) from you own childhood. It is real-life stories like this that stay with you, and bring awareness to young readers of the suffering that others have been through, so that things will be better for the next generation.
Despite the very bleak and horrifying turn of events that the family in Cyclone experience, French’s message is ultimately an uplifting one:- out of the worst tragedies come the most inspirational stories of the human spirit. The story of Cyclone Tracy is not just the destruction of Darwin but what came after, and the human ingenuity that made great strides from the harsh lessons of nature.
With some of the most evocative and atmospheric picture book artwork you will see, Cyclone is the raw yet sensitive telling of a disaster that impacted the lives of thousands, told through the compelling story of one family and its will to survive.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Jackie French
Illustrator: Bruce Whatley
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: February 2016