M is for Mutiny! – History by Alphabet: Book Review

M is for Mutiny - History by Alphabet - Book review on Miss Jenny's ClassroomHistory by alphabet of why and how Australia was colonised and by whom.

Title: M is for Mutiny!: History by Alphabet
Author: John Dickson
Illustrator: Bern Emmerichs
ISBN: 9780994384119          Language: English

Classification: Non-fiction
Themes: history, explorers, colonisation

What’s it about?
This book has an Australian-related event for each letter of the alphabet. The main focus is early Australian settlement and includes people, events, and some native animals.

Embrace
The idea behind this book is interesting – it is looking to impart small, digestible pieces of history to students.

Beware
Not a huge fan of the illustrations but a bigger issue for me was “J is for Jail” – seriously?

M is for Mutiny - Book review on Miss Jenny's ClassroomMy Thoughts
Nominated in the short list for CBCA’s Book Week 2018 in the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books. I’ve got to say I wanted to like this book – I love history and remember how terribly it was taught when I was in school – so , I really wanted to like it but I don’t.

There’s nothing wrong with the information – although it is very male focused. In fact, with the exception of ‘W is for Women’ they are completely ignored in this book despite there being well-known women convicts etc.  It does include a mix of Europeans, Indigenous Australians, events (such as the Rum Rebellion), and the odd animal (Tasmanian Tiger and Kanagaroo) but something about this book doesn’t click for me to use in the classroom. The information itself it quite ‘heavy’ and therefore only suitable for the upper primary grades (and lower high school).

The ‘J is for Jail’. Okay, if you’re ready this wondering what my issue is then you’ve probably spent a lifetime watching many US shows and books published from there as well. Jail is predominately the US term – we’re Australian (and while there are a handful of cases of the jail spelling being used as early as the 1800s) we use Gaol – at least in historical contexts! I know, our vocabulary and spelling gets corrupted by overwhelming influences; I would hazard a guess most students would indeed use jail vs gaol but that doesn’t make it correct. This book is about history – Australian history and therefore the correct spelling as used at the time should have been adopted for this book since it wasn’t permissible to use jail until about 1978 when copyeditors got the green light to use it.

So this book is not for me. I can’t connect with it and my daughter would have trouble being that there really aren’t women in it to connect with.

What do you think?