Once again Sunshine Coast author and illustrator Gregg Dreise has produced a sumptuous and vibrant take on traditional Aboriginal morality tales. Continuing with his series featuring birdlife Mad Magpie follows a theme of bullying and resilience. Drawing on inspiration from his Elders Gregg relates the story of a magpie called Guluu who is continually harassed and teased by butcher birds.
Of course Guluu’s reactive defence of anger just does not impact on his tormentors and the plaguing continues. He consults his wise Elders seeking advice. Old Dinewah the emu, Bulul the mopoke owl and Gulayaali the pelican explain that being ‘tough and angry’ will not solve his problem. They advised him to stay calm like the water flowing in the river and to ignore the butcher birds.
“The butcher birds act tough because they’re in a group. They think it’s funny to see you get angry. Show them how a creature can be strong on the inside.”
As so many others have found in similar circumstances this is not easy and Guluu continues to be frustrated and feel his anger rise.
Until he decides to sing, just as he used to before he became so angry all the time. His loud birdsong completely drowns out the jeering of the bullies and they give up and fly away. Standing proud and alone Guluu demonstrates that just one can overcome many.
In time even the butcher birds learn to sing and the community achieves a harmonious and bully-free life together.
Sing! Dance! Laugh! Love!
We can all learn from the lesson of Mad Magpie.
Highly recommended for children from around the age of four upwards. If you have not seen Gregg’s other books do yourself a favour and seek them out. I have previously reviewed both Silly Birds and Kookoo Kookaburra and also warmly recommend them to you.
With my Small’s proud Wiradjuri heritage these are all firm favourites in our home.
Click on the image to read an article from First Nations Telegraph.