Reviews provided by Syndetics
School Library Journal Review
K-Gr 2-Lester first introduced these characters in Clive Eats Alligators (Houghton, 1986; o.p.), and this book is their sixth adventure together. Here, Ernie is going to live in an area of the Australian Outback for a year, and will write a postcard during each of the area's six seasons. With each postcard comes a little vignette of the boy's new friends engaging in typical activities for that time and place, with one child being showcased at the end of each section. The text is appropriately simple-"Patrick spears a barramundi" needs no embellishment for dramatic effect-and serves primarily to support the illustrations. Lester's watercolor and fine black-line creations are crisp and engaging. They portray happy children having fun and at the same time convey a wealth of information about life in Arnhem Land. This is a nicely designed, informative, and enjoyable addition, perfect for use with multicultural units. An author's note, glossary, and pronunciation guide are included.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Ages 4^-7. The gang from Celeste Sails to Spain (1999) and other adventures returns in this entertaining picture book. This time the friends bid farewell to Ernie as he departs for a year's stay in Arnhem Land, an aboriginal reserve in Australia's Northern Territory. Ernie writes each of his six friends a letter describing one of Arnhem Land's six seasons and relating the activities of his new friends. Lester's colorful, snapshot-size illustrations depict the activities, a few familiar (catching frogs and playing football) and many new and different. The ending double-spread shows Ernie's American friends playing Arnhem Land style: "Celeste is a stilt dancer. Clive wears body paint. Rosie makes damper." There isn't a lot of information here, but the book provides bits and pieces about the climate and some aspects of the aboriginal culture. A glossary explains new terms. --Lauren Peterson
Horn Book Review
For each of the six seasons of a year spent in the Aboriginal Arnhem Land, Anglo Ernie writes back to his classmates about his observations. Each season shows seven children engaged in activities that nicely blend traditional and contemporary interests and values. Bright, slightly understated pictures alternate double-page spreads of individual actions and a larger, concluding observation for that season. From HORN BOOK Fall 2001, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Lester's lively, evocative artwork far outstrips her clunky narrative in this introduction to Australia's northern outback state of Arnhem Land. Young Ernie is off to Arnhem Land to live for a year with his parents. He has promised to write to his friends about the changing seasons. Lester has set the book up so that a two-page spread introduces each of the six seasons as Ernie relates it to his friends back home, with a half-dozen panels showing typical activities for that time of year. During Yekke, Ernie's friends collect bark and dig for yams; during Wurrkeng they weave pandanus and play tin-trucks, etc. Following these spreads are two-page kickers that describe one dramatic scene, such as a child being frightened by stilt dancers or a boy being told about the Creation Mother by his grandfather while sitting in a cave and looking at a petroglyph. But there is no attempt to weave the information into a satisfying narrative. "Ernie collects green plums with Old Daisy. Tammy digs up a long-necked turtle. Christine has her ears inspected." Plop. Plop. Plop. It is fortunate that the Aboriginal words are spellbinding enoughDreamtime, Mimi stilt dancers, icypolefor kids to keep their interest through to the glossary at the end of the book. After all this impressive correspondence, Ernie's friends finally write back, asking, "We wonder what you are doing Ernie?" Since hes done nothing but tell them what hes been doing for six seasons, this comes across as either a bad joke or just plain weird. As a story, it's a great list. (Picture book. 4-8)