In her introduction Evans notes that her anthology is made of selections from books (most of them written for children) ""which Australians feel are representative of their country."" If this seems an unpromising approach to imaginative writing, in practice it works best when most closely followed. The early selections tell, in chronological order, a coherent, colorful story of exploration (Cook's first landing), resettlement of British convicts, discrimination suffered by former convicts, disruption of Aboriginal society, the roving life of outlaw ""bushrangers,"" etc. -- in which each item gains from the variety, and the riches and sentimentality of some are merely fitting elements in the undeveloped landscape. The chapters from later works by better known writers (Patricia Wrightson, Joan Phippson, Ivan Southall) have more universal themes -- a boy's compassion for a doomed colt, a small boy's misunderstanding, an adolescent's challenges -- but are generally less interesting as excerpted here just because they are less peculiarly Australian. Evans doesn't pretend to offer the best in Australian literature, nor is the composite picture presented here a balanced one (what of the urban 60% of the population?). But the whole compilation, read from start to finish or just sampled at random, offers a passing acquaintance with the country and its people, some firm impressions of its history in human terms.