on 14 September 2009
The book is an uneasy synthesis of two ambitions. The first part is a historic investigation into various nineteenth century accounts of children lost in the bush. The second part attempts to define a negative Australian attitude towards children, expressed through neglect, exploitation and cruelty, both in literature and 'life'. The historic component is a straightforward recapitulation, based on contemporary records and contemporary artistic portrayal, whether literary or pictoral. Indeed, for me, the best line in the book is an ironic reference to the lost painting 'Found', by Frederick McCubbin.
The second part seeks to define a collective negative Australian attitude towards new generations. There is some extrapolation from incidents in which children have been treated in ways which would be deplored in any civilised society, together with some dwelling on certain sensationalised works of Australian literature, to the notion of a general, psychological unease about children within Aussie society.
For me, that is more than the evidence can bear.