TEN POUND POM, Carole Wilkinson, ill. Liz Anelli, Black Dog Books, hardback, $24.99, ISBN 9781925381214.
Between the years 1945 to 1972, over a million people immigrated to Australia as part of the Assisted Passage Migration Scheme or, as it is better known, the Ten Pound Pom Scheme. My father was one of these people and so when I learnt that award-winning author Carole Wilkinson’s new book was a recount of her own journey as a ten pound pom I immediately wanted to read it.
In 1963, 12 year old Wilkinson left Britain with her parents and brother. They travelled the 11,397 miles from Derby in the UK to Adelaide on the SS Arcadia for a better life in Australia; complete with a brand-new house and a Holden.
This book tells the true story through the eyes of the innocence of a twelve year old who while she doesn’t want to leave her life at school and her best friend Sally, also views the trip as an adventure.
There are moments throughout the book where the hardship of emigrating half way around the world is brought to the fore. For example the farewells from Grandma and then Granddad and the passage a few pages in…
‘Say goodbye to England,’ Dad says.
Mum doesn’t say anything.’
I was amazed at the story of Wilkinson’s friend Jennifer, who she met onboard the ship, who was immigrating to Australia for the THIRD time. Such tenacity for a better life, as well as the hardships the family would have undertook to get there astounded me.
The journey by ship was luxurious, ten pound Poms were treated like any cruising passengers and once the seasickness wore off Wilkinson ‘has never eaten so much in my life.’ There is also a swimming pool and stops in foreign countries where passengers can disembark and wander around.
Anelli’s illustrations bring the lifestyle and adventure to life, from the illustrations of the belongings that would be packed into two big wooden boxes, through to the sketch of the cabin and the luxurious feel of the voyage, the text is greatly enhanced by the illustrations.
I loved the feeling of space Anelli depicts so well between dark light and hustle of England to the openness of Australia’s beaches and suburban home.
At the end of the book further facts on the migration scheme, the ship Arcadia and a glossary round the book out as more than a simple recount, but an historical point of reference for children.
There is much that can be discussed as a result of reading this book; both from the historical facts within the book (What is a record player? Or what is a Nissen hut?) as well as the experiences between those of a welcomed wanted immigrant to those who have been forced to flee and ask for refuge in Australia and are/were seen as foreign.
I am a fan of Carole Wilkinson’s work and once again she has written a worthwhile book.
Recommended, Sharon Greenaway