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Reviewed by Lois J Wickstrom for Readers' Favorite
My Parents Bought a Caravan, written by Matthew Barker and illustrated by Hannah Kraschenefski, is a rhyming tale of a family’s eight-month adventure driving a caravan around Australia. The art shows both scenic areas of this huge continent, and also many of the wild creatures that hop and crawl and slither across the countryside. This isn’t just a travelogue. It is the story of a family, with mishaps, accidents, illness, and most of all, togetherness. While the story claims to be from the point of view of five-year-old Harrison, whose family wanted to travel before he started school, it reads more like a father’s remembrances, which gives it a much broader perspective.
My Parents Bought a Caravan takes readers around Australia to places with wonderful names like Toowoomba, Tasmania, Bargara, Coonabarabran, Nullarbor, and Uluru. Hanna Kraschenefski’s art shows kangaroos, bats, turtles, snakes, lizards, parrots, echidnas, jellyfish, cassowaries, platypuses, and spiders (as big as a boy’s hand), as well as scenery and family members having an adventure. Meanwhile, the rhyming narrative details car problems such as a flat tire, running out of gas, getting a cracked windshield, a faulty lead, and overheating. It continues with illnesses varying from car sickness to dust-caused swollen eyeballs, sunburn, a broken leg, and of course, family squabbles. Still in the end, despite it all, Harrison concludes this was the best year of his life. If you haven’t been to Australia, this book is a colorful invitation to visit. And if you live there, it’s an invitation to travel around your country.