H(esba) F(ay) Brinsmead The Junior Bookshelf - Essay

The Junior Bookshelf

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Mrs. Brinsmead demonstrates once more her mastery of the social scene and her profound understanding of what makes humans tick [in Listen to the Wind]. Her demonstration is enlivened with wit and high humour; few writers today, whether they profess to write for children or for adults, have so keen and relevant a sense of fun.

The scene is O'Brian's Point. Places matter a great deal to this writer, and here she paints a beautiful picture of a broken-down settlement of blackfellers and poor whites. Here lives Bella Greenrush …, everybody's dream mum. One of her family is Tam who, alone of the Greenrushes, has ambition. He has, too, a white friend, the lovely teenage Loveday Smith. There are serious social problems implicit in the theme, and Mrs. Brinsmead shirks none of them; she explores them, however, with an understanding at once tender and realistic. The story, potentially tragic, is a comedy, occasionally—when Uncle Zac enters—even a farce.

Out of Australia, with its clash of contradictory cultures, comes yet another joyous, shrewd, devastatingly honest picture of ordinary folk tackling man-sized everyday problems. The setting is infinitely remote from our own and the problems very different; it is difficult to believe, nevertheless, that … children will fail to recognise the truth and beauty of a fine story. (pp. 363-64)

"For Children from Ten to Fourteen: 'Listen to the Wind'," in The Junior Bookshelf, Vol. 34, No. 6, December, 1970, pp. 363-64.