Brennan, Net. Child Convicts. Candlewick Press 2015 29p $16.99 ISBN 978-0-7636-7326-0 ms/hs Nonfiction VG
This brief book is full of interesting information regarding the transport of 18th-century British convicts to Australia, then called New Holland, to work in penal colonies to develop the land. Due to poverty and disease in 18th-century Britain, many were forced into a life of crime for survival. Many of these criminals were children who were orphaned or living in such poverty that crime was a matter of survival. Many were convicted for minor offenses such as petty theft or pregnancy out of wedlock. The Brits had the idea that “transporting” these “criminals” would solve the problem of overcrowded prisons in Britain and would provide labor that would develop the new-found land of Australia. Additionally, it was so far away from Britain, the population was assured that if these criminals were to escape, they would not be returning to Britain.
This well-written book is full of fascinating information, which is presented in chronological order, and each chapter discusses an aspect of the transport process. It also includes excerpts about some of the criminals, along with their crimes, sentences, and outcomes. It is astonishing how many of the convicts were children, sentenced to very hard lives for petty crimes that were committed merely for survival.
In addition to the well-written text, there is the visual appeal of the book. Each double-page spread addresses a different aspect of the process and includes full-color illustrations and maps that enhance the text. Near the end of the book, which is organized in chronological order and covers a period lasting until the mid-19th century, there are also black-and-white photographs, as the camera had already been invented. Readers will find the writing fascinating and the graphics engaging. A timeline is included, and the book concludes with a glossary, list of references, image credits and an index.
Summary: The book describes the transport of 18th-century British convicts to Australia, then called New Holland, to work in penal colonies to develop the land. They were being punished for minor crimes to which they were sentenced, and many of them were children.
Convicts-History, Australia-History --Virginia McGarvey