Title: Get Me Out of Here!
Author: Pauline Deeves
Illustrator: Brent Wilson
Published: May 2022
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Children’s Non-Fiction Picturebook
I received a copy of Get Me Out Of Here! from the publishers for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Full of crims, crooks and rascally runaways, this fun and light-hearted non-fiction title is a colourful celebration of our convict past.
Featuring Moondyne Joe, Mary Bryant, and a guy who put on a kangaroo skin and hopped away (literally), this fun and engaging collection brings our country’s early colonial past to life.
Children’s non-fiction titles are my new favourite thing to peruse, because authors are doing so many wonderful things with the genre. This particular book caught my eye because of it’s title – Get Me Out of Here! is such a great way to draw in a reader, coupled with the illustrations of prisoners escaping. What kid doesn’t want to know about how someone got away with something seemingly impossible?
Get Me Out of Here! tells the stories of a handful of notable convicts from Australia’s colonial past and their daring escapes – some made it last and others were collected and returned to their penitentiaries, but all of them have some kind of strange or outlandish escape plan. Their stories are then matched up with facts and interesting vocabulary or other known convicts with similar stories making this a fun way to dive into a part of history that many may not be familiar with.
I also really enjoyed reading the little fact files included on each convict at the start of each chapter because it was a quick synopsis of where the convicts came from originally, what their crime was (and some of them are fascinating and would prompt great conversations with kids), and other little bits of information that don’t make it into the escape narratives.
While Australia’s colonial past does come with its own complications, I was very happy to see that where the stories of the escaping convicts converged with Aboriginal people, the author/publishing house has had their information reviewed by relevant Aboriginal advisory bodies. This was noted in the Acknowledgement at the beginning of the book and again in specific chapters.
The layout of the book is fantastic, the stories contain enough information about the escapes and the illustrations add a touch of whimsy and humour to the book. It was, overall, a fascinating read. I didn’t know much (if anything) about any of the escape artists shared in this book so I definitely learnt some new things, too!