Radio Rescue was published in November, 2016, and is a successful collaboration between author Jane Jolly and illustrator Robert Ingpen. (Tea and Sugar Christmas, published in 2014, was another book they worked on together).
Radio Rescue is an exquisitely illustrated book that captures the uniqueness of outback Australia while presenting an important piece of history. The story takes place in the 1930’s on a remote station in the outback where young Jim lives with his Mum and Dad. Although they all enjoy life where they are, it sometimes gets lonely for them all and their isolated position is a concern that hovers in the background, especially if medical attention should ever be required.
Then one day a ‘pedal radio’ arrives bringing with it the ability to communicate by tapping out morse code with the hands while powering the machine by foot. All of a sudden they were connected to the outside world! Jim is told he has to wait until he is older before he can use the machine but when Dad is thrown from his horse and breaks his leg, Jim needs to try to get help and manages to do so using the new radio.
As usual, Robert Ingpen has captured the Australian landscape in an understated, powerful way. The book is lavishly illustrated in full colour and detailed pencil sketches, and in a similar fashion to Tea & Sugar Christmas, some of the pages fold out double.
At the end of the book there is a section detailing the relationship between the Reverend John Flynn of the Australian Inland Mission and Alf Traeger as they worked together on the idea of providing a form of communication for people in isolated areas.
The author explains here how the idea for the book came to be and the books she used to research the pedal radio.
Radio Rescue is a worthy addition to any curriculum covering Australian History in the primary years especially for age 10 years and under. The story line is simple but there is much to interest a wide range of ages, including some action and a young hero who saves the day. The historical aspects are intriguing and would interest any child with a penchant for invention, as well as providing some interesting rabbit trails.