The Great Expedition reviews
Review by Kids Book Review, 18 May 2011
On May 8, a young girl took on a nerve-wracking mission. She was to listen to a story she had never before heard. She sat down, looking expectedly to her senior officer and waited.
That story was The Great Expedition.
And she not only loved it, she requested it again and again. This is the tale of Robert and Will, who put together a team of experts to make their journey across unchartered lands.
Losing team member after team member to the perils surrounding them, running out of water and losing their way, their mission is in danger of being ultimately unsuccessful.
Carnavas hasn’t created the same wonderful work we already love – he’s taken another leap to make something extra, extra special. The Great Expedition is his best book yet.
Basing the story upon the famous expedition of Burke and Wills, the journey of these children from Robert’s backyard to deliver a parcel to his grandmother is so beautifully told.
The language is strong, short and sharp, creating much suspense and drama as the illustrations show a different, more realistic story. (“Sadly, Lily didn’t make it” is an example, as the illustrations show a young girl being dragged away by the dog.)
Young children will love this book for the drama and beautiful illustrations (and Carnavas’s ability to make a historic event part of their life), while older kids will be intrigued by the story’s historic basis and find the narration funny yet poignant.
And the aforementioned young girl? Well, after reading she heads outside for her own adventures with the dog dragging her around, across bridges, through tunnels and on important missions.
The Great Expedition is a must for every child’s book collection.
Excerpt from Review by The Book Chook, June 17, 2011
Like all expeditions, this one has its problems. Parents and kids alike will laugh over situations like the team being ambushed by a Senior Officer who drags Ivy away – it’s obvious from the illustration this is Mum who’s carting Ivy off to her ballet lesson. The illustrations constantly reveal the subtext to add humour, as when the team locate a waterhole but the picture is of a bubbler/water fountain. The final double spread picture of the survivors overlooking the park and playground equipment completes the fun.
I like the way Carnavas tells his tale with a flavour of the slightly formal language used in expedition write-ups. We read that “They were a ramshackle bunch but each member had a duty essential to the journey”, of “Henry, biologist: collect creatures native to the land” and “Ivy, botanist: gather plant samples along the way.” It’s so important for children to learn new vocabulary this way, and makes their reading experience rich and meaningful.