With a cheerful “G’day, mate,” a narrator invites readers to glimpse a slice of life on an Australian wheat farm.
“Today we’re using the tractor and seeder to plant a wheat crop,” George tells his dog, Jessie. “We’re going to be flat out as a lizard drinking!” Wheat planting is busy work, but soon George starts thinking about his football practice that “arvo” (afternoon). Leaving his job half-finished, George asks Ruby (presumably his spouse, though she’s never really introduced) for help. While Ruby does indeed finish the job, George never acknowledges her help—and young readers are unlikely to understand her knowing smile at the end of the story. Teamwork? It comes across much more as falling back on gender stereotypes. Narration by Australian radio presenter Peter Goers adds to the authentic feel of the story. Bright cartoon digital illustrations are attractive, and young children will enjoy the farm sounds of the rumbling tractor, chirping magpie and barking dog. Two simple games and a song supplement the story but aren’t likely to hold young readers’ attention for very long. The app provides the option for another story about George to be included soon. Perhaps he will be less of a boor in it.
Although his Aussie slang is amusing, George is actually something of a jerk, and the app doesn’t offer enough by way of features or narrative to compensate for his total absence of character growth. (iPad storybook app. 4-7)