Radio rescue! by Jane Jolly

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Ill. by Robert Ingpen. NLA Publishing, 2016. ISBN 9780642278784
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Australian outback, Bush life, Children in the outback, Pedal wireless, School of the air. In this sumptuously presented hard cover book, a story is told which underlines the importance of the Royal Flying Doctor Service to communities in outback Australia, as well as giving a history of the development of the radio for station people, showing how important its use became to them all for communication, school and medical help.
The book opens with a family sighing for some sort of link to the outside world. They all love their lives, Dad herding the sheep, Mum caring for the house and the freedom that their son, Jim has, but there is something missing. One day a truck arrives with the new gadget designed to help them all, a pedal wireless. They are shown how to use it, pedaling the bicycle like wheels, tapping out their messages then waiting for the voice to come through. Magically they are at last connected to anyone they wish to speak to. Dad speaks to the stock agent, Mum to her friends to swap gossip and recipes, while Jim is told to wait till he is older. But one day he has an emergency on his hands when Dad falls from his horse and breaks his leg. Jim must remember the things his parents do with the radio and call the Flying Doctor Service.
Within a few pages, beautifully illustrated by Ingpen, the reader learns about the isolation endured by those living so far from town and city, the dangers of living in such places, the use of the pedal wireless and the work done by the Flying Doctor. Jane Jolly's brief words encapsulate the Australian Bush, not a word is superfluous as she tells her tale. The illustrations cover the fold out pages, give a wonderful impression of this isolated life.
Readers will gain a great deal of information looking closely at the drawings, taking in the vastness of the area, the homestead and outbuildings, the home built air strip, all helped with maps drawn of the area in the endpapers.
At the end of the story are several pages of information about the pedal wireless ad its inventor and supporter, two heroes of the bush, Traeger and Flynn.
The author, Jolly and illustrator, Ingpen also worked together on the award winning, Tea and sugar Christmas.
Fran Knight