Monthly Archives: October 2018

Black Cockatoo – Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler

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Magabala Books

 

Published: Jul 2018

 

ISBN: 9781925360707

RRP: $11.99

A beautiful novella that explores a coming-of-age experience for a young Aboriginal girl in the remote Kimberley region.

Mia is distressed at the increasing distance her brother is putting between himself and family. The growing turbulence within her family is hard for a 13 year old to contend with but the day she find an injured dirran (black cockatoo), her own totem animal is the start to an acceptance of the situation for her.

As she cares for the bird she begins to comprehend the wisdom of her elders around being true to oneself and one’s culture, resilience and inner strength. When Mia finally is able to release the beautiful bird she realises that she can indeed stand up for herself and weather the storms.

A short but powerful read that I would highly recommend for readers from around 12 years upwards.

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Crossing Ebenezer Creek – Tonya Bolden

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Bloomsbury Australia

Published: 01-08-2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781681196992
Imprint: Bloomsbury YA
RRP $14.99

 

The wonderful thing about well-written, well-researched historical fiction is that you don’t just learn new information but that you can immerse yourself in the period and gain a far greater understanding than dry textbooks will offer. I openly admit that I know very little about the American Civil War beyond a little reading and several movies (after all, who hasn’t watched Gone With the Wind at least a dozen times?).

Hence I had no idea about the freed slaves who were part of Sherman’s march across Georgia – nor indeed the dreadful ending so many of them had. Naturally I knew that not all the Yankees were accepting of the freed slaves but to read of such vile wickedness is quite confronting.

Mariah and her young brother Zeke are freed from their heinous slavery and are two of the hundreds in the march. Caleb, a free-born man, is an indispensable assistant to the kind and compassionate Captain Galloway and takes on the role of protector, and indeed would be family to them both.

Along the often harsh march the ex-slaves share their various dreadful histories revealing much of a truly horrendous endurance.  But it is not all history as many perish at the hands of cruel supposed liberators even in the midst of their hopes and dreams of freedom.

The terrible crime at Ebenezer Creek needs to be told and told it is in the context of real human anguish and pain. Bolden has done a remarkable job of bringing this to the attention of young readers with the dignity and empathy that its victims deserve.

The frightening aspect is that so little has changed in many ways – either in the USA or here with our own First Australians – who are often still victimised and persecuted simply on the basis of race. Hopefully, there are enough of us who are prepared to continue to stand up to this schism in our society and eventually eradicate the evil forever.

Highly recommended for discerning readers from around 12 years upwards.

 

The Great Outback Adventure

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My Jen was a proud Wiradjuri woman and always encouraged her daughter, Not-So-Small, to grow in her culture. One of her greatest dreams was to take Not-So-Small to the Outback particularly Kakadu and Uluru. When she died in 2015 many kind people put much-appreciated donations towards a fund for me to be able to fulfil that dream. At the time it wasn’t enough but over the years, by dint of adding when I could I managed to acquire more dollars. A few months ago when a certain airline announced direct flights from Brisbane to Ayers Rock at a very reasonable price I knew it was doable – so booked our flights and some accommodation for the first few nights. Last Monday we took off on our adventure. We arrived at Ayers Rock Airport and headed straight out to Uluru for our first close-up look, taking Mummy in our hearts and minds.  After a look around the wonderful Cultural Centre – the highlight of which was watching some beautiful aunties painting we drove out to Kings Canyon where we spent the first three nights.

A walk along the canyon floor admiring the beauty of the amazing feature and another a day later exploring to Kathleen Springs were our main goals. We spotted wild camels, zebra finches, a bearded dragon, a wedge-tailed eagle and hawks all the while marvelling over the seemingly barren endless expanse of the Central Desert.

On Thursday we got up early and headed back to Uluru (spotting two dingos, including one black one! along the way) for a luxurious night at Sails in the Desert – how wonderful to have a free  upgrade to a terrace room! – with it’s sumptous grounds, pool and marvellous staff.  Back to the sacred rock for some more photos, a swim for Not-So-Small in the amazing pool (all to herself at the time!), a Bush Tucker talk and some lunch, then a little rest before a brilliant sunset scenic flight over the spectacular Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and Uluru itself in a tiny Cessna – just the two of us and the pilot. What a truly wonderful experience that was – definitely the highlight – and our pilot so knowledgeable as well. Not-So-Small loved being up front next to him!

After an easy dinner with room service we headed off to the Field of Light art installation – another fantastic experience.

One day we might get to Kakadu as well – though Not-So-Small has requested Tasmania for our next adventure – next year! In the meantime, I know Jen would have been watching over her girl as she discovered more about her First Australian heritage and smiling.

Thank you to everyone who helped the dream come true xxx

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