Author; Christobel Mattingley
National Library of Australia
Market; Ages 9 +
Reviewed By Vicki Griffin.
Being an Australian we should all know about Abel Tasman’s Heroic journey, he discovered Tasmania, New Zealand and mapped a large section of the north and west coasts of Australia. Sadly a lot of our children don’t know this amazing story. Tasman had hardly any charts or records to assist him out in the ocean yet he was willing to venture out and face conditions that no one had ever faced before.
Christobel has managed to turn this tale into a warm visual story that captured my attention based on his journals, maps and other explorations. She has managed to turn her father’s journey into a readable, exciting and breathtaking book! We get to experience his first meetings with Indigenous tribes, the sheer terror of pirates and how sailors back in the 1600’s coped and we marvel at how brave they were. She has adapted a frightening journey across the seas and blended heroism, danger and adventure in which captures the warmth of this period of history that we don’t know a lot about.
This was a courageous man who was given a ship that was in poor condition with a crew that had to constantly work hard to adapt to the perils that lay before them every day. Just to sail through the coral reefs is a challenge today; Abel Tasman used the colour of water to predict what lay below, time of day with the sun reflecting off the water and a man constantly on lookout for perils that awaited them, not an easy task even today.
However Abel Tasman showed a remarkable resilience as did his crew and his voyages were successful. What I especially like about this book is the narrator and the female voice; it allows the reader to feel a soft side to the tale. The section where her father tells her a story about the voyage is endearing to which she replies,’ Oh I would love to see a seal. Do tell me about it,’ she begged. This gives an insight into the man not the sailor and one becomes more familiar with the family man.
Not for a moment taking away his achievements Abel Tasman was a brave man who conquered quests no man had dared to do before him and this book ‘My father’s Islands’ does him justice. It is a great account of history with original maps and illustrations from Tasman’s journal, this little known story would warm the cockles of children’s hearts especially boys. It is an adventure that wasn’t fabricated but really happened. I have to say Chapter 15 would be my favourite; Calms, currents, earthquakes and Encounters. There is something surreal in reading how they experienced an earthquake and the aftershocks of heavy rain, winds and then calm only to all start again. They were all a brave bunch of sailors with a desire to explore the unexplored. A great book certainly recommended reading.