Our Country : Ancient wonders by Mark Greenwood and illustrated by Frané Lessac is a stunning picture book that inspires readers to immerse themselves in the world of a diverse group of curious explorers who travel around Australia to all states and territories and experience the remarkable ancient wonders. This book is the first in the new Our Country series and is aimed at children 7-12 years.
The adventure begins on the front endpaper which is a vibrant map of Australia. This map identifies all of the places included in the book. The back endpaper also has the same map, but the astute reader will notice the places included on this map are different to those at the beginning of the book. The places on the back endpaper are further places to explore and are not mentioned in the book.
This story starts with the exciting and adventurous premise that “Our home is an ancient land…wonders are waiting…adventure is out there”. A group of young intrepid explorers appear on the first double page spread in search of adventure. What follows are three different sets of text, all of which introduce a natural ancient wonder, these being fascinating natural formations and remarkable landmarks. One set of text is a lyrical sentence that states a fact such as, “Prehistoric beasts once roamed our country” or “space rocks have scarred our country”. A second set of text, a descriptive story telling style of narration, introduces the natural wonder and gives a brief description and history of the phenomenon, what you can see or experience there, as well as some information about the location of the wonder. A third set of text, the smallest font size, provides a more in depth geological analysis and timelines for each wonder, including palaeontologists theories about how some of these wonders came to be and what they reveal.
Mark Greenwood’s varied sets of texts together with Frané Lessac’s rich, evocative and vibrant illustrations gloriously bring to life each of the fascinating wonders. This book takes readers on a journey exploring diverse landscapes, sacred sites and shares First Nations peoples deep connection to Country. Some places readers will experience include underground at Lightning Ridge, rafting down the Franklin River, inside the caves of Naracoorte, Lake Mungo, Karlu Karlu, flying in a helicopter to explore the wet season in Kakadu and having a dip at Zebedee thermal springs (other natural wonders are also included).
This book is brimming with mesmerising facts and accessible information about Australia’s unique natural wonders peppered across this diverse land. This book serves as an excellent gateway to discuss Australia’s environment and geology. It would also be an invaluable resource to whet children’s appetite about the ancient awe inspiring natural phenomenon in Australia and inspire students to conduct further research into these. Our Country: Ancient wonders will no doubt inspire young and older adventurers alike to further explore and experience Australia’s incredible and unique natural treasures.