An outrageous and unbelievable true story of a convict pirate named Swallow from Simon Barnard, the 2015 CBCA winner of A-Z Convicts in Van Diemen's Land
It’s 23 October 1821 and convict William Swallow stands on the deck of the Malabar for muster. He is wearing a canary yellow convict uniform and his legs are chained.
He’s just completed the 121-day sea voyage from London to Hobart Town, but his wild and audacious adventures have barely begun. He’ll soon ditch the convict uniform and the chains, take part in a mutiny, become a pirate captain and fool the world in what just might be the most outrageous and unbelievable true story in Australia’s convict history.
Reviewed by Olivia at Angus & Robertson Bookworld:
Never has there been a children’s book quite as celebratory of Australia’s larrikin culture as Gaolbird. This is a tale so delightfully raucous that one can’t help but chuckle at the antics of the plucky convict known as William Swallow as he sails the southern seas.
As the title would suggest, the infamous runaway convict William Swallow and his fellow pirates have been reimagined here as yellow canaries, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the canary-yellow prison uniforms that convicts were made to wear. Over the course of this book, readers will follow his remarkable true story of capture and escape, wonderfully told by Simon Barnard and replete with fantastic illustrations that bring to mind the zany wackiness of the best Looney Tunes cartoons.
This book is full of the stuff that Aussie legends are made of and it deserves a spot on every kid’s bookshelf!