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'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Ignacio Estrada, via Tomlinson)

Book Review: To Get to Me, by Eleanor Kerr and Judith Russell

Posted by Lisa Hill on June 18, 2013

To Get to MeTo Get to Me is a bright and colourful picture book about transport.  It features a little boy called Peter who invites his friend Ahmed to come along to the zoo, but Ahmed needs to make his way there from somewhere in the Middle East to Sydney, using a variety of forms of transport, from camels to chairlifts.

While the pictures are gorgeous, there’s not much more to it than that, and it bothers me a little bit that the transport depicted in the Middle East consists of camels and a village bus complete with chickens on the roof – until they get to the airport.  Sydney, by contrast, has a modern train; an escalator; ferries, boats and yachts; and the chairlift.  These contrasts contribute to the stereotype of the Middle East as a backward place when in fact a country like Qatar, for example,  (one of the richest countries in the world) is incredibly modern and the contemporary architecture in Doha puts the Sydney Opera House to shame.  (In Dubai, I read at Virtual Tourist, the bus stops are air-conditioned, an innovation I’d like to see in Australia!)

So if I were using this book to teach a unit of work on transport, I’d supplement it with a variety of images:

and so on…

Author: Eleanor Russell
Illustrator: Judith Rossell
Title: To Get to Me
Publisher: Random House, 2013
ISBN: 9781742758831
Review copy courtesy of Random House


Fishpond: To Get To Me

3 Responses to “Book Review: To Get to Me, by Eleanor Kerr and Judith Russell”

  1. Hi Lisa, thanks for your review! Actually, in the story, Ahmed is not from the Middle East, but from Morocco!

    • Dot said

      The author tells me it was based on her own travel experiences through Morocco as well. Great review though, good to generate discussion.

      • Lisa Hill said

        Hi Dot, thanks for your comment. however, I think that’s not the point, that the book is based on her own experiences. It’s the impression that it conveys. Anyone who travels a bit sees quaint old fashioned ways of doing things once off the beaten track, but it’s like portraying Indonesia as a place full of peasants tending the rice fields when in fact Indonesia has an urban middle class of over 23 million people, more than the entire population of Australia, and with more money to spend.
        What’s been shown in this book is *Australian city life* – not an Aussie kid in some remote outback town where a mobile phone doesn’t even work half the time and there’s no bus to catch or any other kind of public transport – and this is contrasted with rural life elsewhere. We in Australia need to be more wary of perpetuating stereotypes, even in books for little kids.

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