Monday, 20 April 2009

Crime Time: Australians Behaving Badly / Sue Bursztynski

Review - Crime Time : Australians behaving badly is a collection of true Australian crime stories ranging from bushrangers such as Ned Kelly and Mad Dan Morgan through to serial killers, fraudsters and modern celebrity criminals. It has an introduction by Kerry Greenwood and contains details of the crimes, biographical details, portraits by Louise Prout and interesting trivia in Did You Know boxes.

Summary - This is my first non-fiction book review on Persnickety Snark and as such I have chosen not to allot a grading. Though I have used many in research as both a student and a teacher, I haven't explored them enough in a critical manner.

As the teacher of a class full of kids that are fascinated with the actions of real life crims, I can see this being a popular book. As a non-fiction read for the YA set, it's set out remarkably well to assist with navigation. It's broken down into manageable pieces that make it easy to read over a length of time. Louise Prout has contributed illustrations of the infamous Aussies that have perpetrated a multitude of interesting crimes.

As someone who took great pleasure in reading about the exploits of Jack the Ripper, this would have rocked my socks as a kid. It's written in an easy to read style that's matter of fact, giving details but not being overly gruesome. There's also a sense of humour present that is fitting and lightens what could be quite extreme subject matter.

Bursztynski tackles crimes from cannibalism, identify theft and planned executions. There are some doozies too - Pyjama Girl, who's head was preserved in formaldehyde as evidence and the arm that was coughed up by an aquarium shark. Something I really liked is there's an even distribution of male and females covered within the book's pages.

Much of Australia's criminal history is covered from the first seafarers, to convicts, bushrangers through to present day. It's an impressive collection of interesting tales backed with research. I loved that a recommendation list was provided at the conclusion of the book. Inevitably there are kids that want to read more and as a teacher/librarian, Bursztynski has the background to suggest other quality resources.

Published: March 2009
Format: Paperback, 208 pages
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing
Origin: Australia
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Sue Bursztynski Official Website
Sue Bursztynski's blog

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