Meet Sidney Nolan


Author: Yvonne Mes

Illustrator: Sandra Eterovic

Publisher: Penguin | Random House

Comments: The Meet… Series has been warmly welcomed by classroom teachers, and these books are particularly useful in the context of teaching History. Each title introduces middle grade readers to a significant historical Australian figure.

Sidney Nolan is best known perhaps for his iconic representations of infamous bush ranger Ned Kelly. This book explores how that interest grew in Nolan, and Eterovic has cleverly incorporated some of Nolan’s Kelly motifs and modernist techniques in the book’s illustrations. I particularly enjoyed the illustration of the two “rebels” (Kelly and Nolan) both “on the run”. The story includes some interesting anecdotes. Did you know that Nolan worked in a hat factory? Or that he was so desperate to study modernism in Europe that he tried (unsuccessfully) to stow away on a ship?!

Random House have provided some excellent Teaching Notes that are worth downloading. The 15 page document includes further information about Sidney Nolan’s life and work, interviews with the author and illustrator, suggested teaching activities and printable worksheets.

I have known Yvonne Mes for many years through writing groups back in Brisbane, but Meet Sidney Nolan is actually her debut picture book! Congrats Yvonne. An excellent addition to the series that shares stories about men and women who have shaped Australia.

Teacher  Tip: This book could also be a useful inclusion when teaching Art, and introducing modernism. If you can’t get your students to the National Gallery of Australia to see Sidney Nolan’s original works, you can check out the virtual gallery via the NGA website.

*I received a review copy of Meet… Sidney Nolan courtesy of Penguin | Random House. No payment was received for review and all comments are based on my own professional opinion.

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