Tag Archives: Indigenous authors

Today’s Sun – Gregg Dreise

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Penguin Australia

  • Published: 31 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9781760898335
  • Imprint: Picture Puffin
  • RRP: $14.99

Gregg‘s name has been bandied around quite a bit in the past week in our library after I suggested engaging him for next year’s Book Week visiting author for our younger students. He is the most marvellously warm and engaging speaker who elicits such a fabulous response from his audience as well as being such a hugely talented creator. How fortunate we are that he’s a wonderful Queenslander and a proud Kamilaroi and Euahlayi man, who passes on culture, unity, healing and knowledge through his music, storytelling and performances.

Anyone who has seen Gregg’s books will know what a talented artist and writer he is and they are all well loved but I almost think that this new board book with it’s black and white line illustrations, has stolen my heart even more than the others. Perhaps its because I’ve watched Gregg sit in our library and create one of his remarkable drawings but more likely, I think, because I love that children will be able to imagine their own colour choices for each scene.

Gregg, please we need some activity sheets because our kiddos are definitely going to want and make these illustrations their own!! Of course, if you buy these beautiful board book for a child in your circle they will be able to colour the book itself and possibly, with some medium, that can then be wiped clean for a different take on the scene.

Take your little jarjums on a sunny day excursion and watch them bounce like a kangaroo or play hide-and-seek like a camouflaged tawny until they are ready to snuggle like a little, fuzzy koala.

I cannot recommend Gregg’s work highly enough and this little book will not only be a perfect gift for a new little babe in your family or circle of friends but a beautiful addition for an early childhood collection.

Heroes, Rebels and Innovators – Karen Wyld. Illustrated by Jaelyn Biumaiwai.

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Hachette

July 2021

ISBN: 9780734419835

RRP: $26.99

As NAIDOC 2021 draws to a close, this is such an important book to share with you, examining as it does the lives and incredible actions of seven inspirational First Australian heroes. Each of these amazing Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander figures contributed in immensely important ways to their people and to our nation, though some have been sadly overlooked in the general terms of history. How fitting it is that this book sheds light on not only some whose names are known to contemporary society but also some whose stories have been side-lined.

As far back as the arrival of the Europeans comes the first of these inspiring stories with the account of Patyegarang, the Darug woman who worked closely with Lt Dawes, officer and scientist with the First Fleet. These two worked together each learning the language of the other and compiling a list of Aboriginal words. The discovery of Dawe’s writings in 1972 has helped to revive the Darug language and, though we have no knowledge of Patyegarang after Dawe’s departure back to England, her legacy lives on with this important record.

The stories of the remaining six icons are just as fascinating: Bungaree, whose efforts were of such great aid to Matthew Flinders; Taronorerer, who rebelled against the white blackbirders and led her people in battle; Yarri and Jacky Jacky, rescuers of 69 people in the Gundagai floods of 1852; Mohara Wacando Lifu, first Indigenous woman to receive the Royal Humane Society’s Gold Medal for bravery; David Unaipon, known by many as the Black da Vinci and Fanny Balbuk Yooreel, resistance fighter and fierce protector of the environment.

Make no mistake each of these makes for compelling reading and the colourful spreads will engage readers’ interest in the text and give rise to much fruitful discussion.

Perfectly suited to classroom units of work exploring cross-cultural perspectives but also so very much worthwhile promoting as independent reading for readers from around year 3 upwards.

Highly recommended for your readers and your teachers alike..

Story Doctors – Boori Monty Pryor. Illustrated by Rita Sinclair.

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Allen & Unwin

July 2021

ISBN:9781760526559

Publishers; A & U Children’s

Imprint: A & U Children

RRP: $24.99

Timely in more ways than one, as once again so many parts of Australia and our people are anxious and fearful with the Covid pandemic again causing distress, and as we approach NAIDOC 2021 with its significant and meaningful theme of “Heal Country”, Boori’s new book is a song from his heart.

Prior to the initial outbreak of Covid in 2020, Boori had predicted that Australia was going to become sick, as a result of our country’s painful and, as yet, unresolved shared history, this litany of injustices, cruelty and wilful misunderstandings. And while the 2020 Covid lockdown in Melbourne raged around him, Boori took to words to write a prescription for healing our country so that we can move forward with true understanding and respect in our hearts.

Described as both a story and a history this is, to my mind, a richly empowering epic poem which resonates with such heartfelt emotion that it cannot fail to move the reader with its carefully chosen words and imagery. The superb illustrations by Rita Sinclair lend both vibrancy and animation to the text and there are many pages at which the reader will gasp at the beauty of them.

As cathedrals echo time,

and footprints’ rhythm steps the rhyme,

prescriptions so sublime.

Boori has given us all a true treasure with this remarkable and deeply personal offering to the nation and it is one which very rightly deserves to be shared with readers over and over again. Many schools will be celebrating NAIDOC after the holidays and this would be the ideal choice for a shared reading at any assembly or within classrooms and libraries to prompt thoughtful discussion and unpack the meaning of NAIDOC’s 2021 theme. 

Green shoots so small,

to trees so tall.

Breathe,

believe.

It’s in the song…

…if we listen, we all belong.

What greater gift can we give our children – those ‘green shoots so small’ – than to help them grow in understanding, respect and true equality?  I urge you to get hold of this book as soon as you can and start the ripples by sharing it with your own children and classes, even your littler kiddos will be able to grasp the meaning if you help them navigate the beautiful text. Contact publicity@allenandunwin.com for more information

Highly recommended for all readers – young and old.  #Healcountry 

https://www.naidoc.org.au/resources/teaching-guides

The Emu Who Ran Through the Sky – Helen Milroy

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Magabala Books

April 2021

ISBN:
9781925936018

RRP: $22.99

This is the second in Helen Milroy’s exciting series Tales from the Bush Mob and will be as equally welcome as the first, Willy-willy Wagtail. Either as a read-aloud for your younger students or an independent read for your older ones this is definitely one to put on your list, especially with NAIDOC week coming up.

What is particularly lovely about this series is the message that working together with our friends and community we can solve problems which may otherwise seem insurmountable. The shared wisdom and experience of our friends can make all the difference and for Lofty the Emu, who desperately wants to win the big emu race but is too slow and clumsy, it is the knowledge and help of his bush mob mates who help him on his way to success.

Lofty seeks out his expert flier friends to teach him how to fly but as one might expect, despite their best efforts, emus are just not built for flying in the same way as Bat or Eagle or even Sugar Glider, so needs a solution that is completely unique. Luckily for Lofty, Platypus as the Bush Mob’s resident inventor, comes up with a very creative and highly effective solution which enables the emu to soar to success.

As some people might know the Emu in the Sky is a well-known Aboriginal astronomical constellation, with First Australians being the world’s first astronomers and this lively tale echoes this phenomena and will lead to discussions beyond that of written text. [In fact, it is the perfect time of year to observe this constellation.]

I strongly urge you to not only seek out this book to share with your children but to explore the night skies from another perspective.

Highly recommended for independent readers from around 6/7 years upwards – or as a fun read-aloud, as part of your cross-cultural perspective in your teaching program.

Took the Children Away – Archie Roach/Ruby Hunter

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Simon & Schuster Australia

October 2020

  • ISBN13: 9781760857219

RRP: $24.99

What a privilege to be asked to provide a review for this fabulous 30th anniversary edition of Archie’s book. This great man, 2020 Victorian Australian of the Year, member of the Order of Australia and recipient of countless other awards for his music, is one my family’s heroes, not just for his music but his tireless campaigning for First Australian people.

Archie and his soulmate, Ruby Hunter, were both stolen children, and this collaboration between them is a testament to both the talent of each and their determination to provide insight into the shame of the past. Included on his 1990 debut album, Charcoal Lane, this very personal and poignant song received the prestigious Australian Human Rights Award, the first ever to do so.

This absolutely stunning edition with its textured binding (just wonderful!) and glorious endpapers, as well as Ruby Hunter’s evocative illustrations includes historical photographs and recollections, scant as they may be, from Archie’s family. [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that this book contains images of people who are deceased or who may now be deceased.]

It has been longlisted for the 2021 ABIA Book of the Year for Younger Children award which, to my mind at least, speaks volumes.

Archie’s foundation has joined with ABC Education to create the Archie Roach Stolen Generations resources which will enable all educators to to “ignite a sense of place, belonging, community and identity for all Australians.” suitable for students from Year 3-10. You can find them here and I would urge to make full use of them with your students.

Needless to say this has my highest recommendation for students from lower primary upwards and I truly thank Simon & Schuster for this opportunity – and of course, Archie Roach AM and the late Ruby Hunter for their inspiring work on behalf of First Australians.

Main Abija My Grandad – Karen Rogers

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Allen & Unwin

16 March 2021

ISBN:9781760526030

Publisher: A&U Children’s

Imprint: A & U Children

RRP: $24.99

‘Dijan buk gada ola memri ai bin abum gada main abija from wen ai bin lilgel til imin libu wi. Imin titjim mi loda tings bla koltja en bla kantri. Mi hepi ba pasim det stori la main femili en bla pudum la dis buk.’

‘This book has the memories I had of my grandfather from when I was small until he left us. He taught me many things about culture and country. I’m happy to pass this story on to my family and to put it in this book.’

Celebrated artist, Karen Rogers, comes from the Ngukurr Community in South East Arnhem Land and this is her absolutely amazing tribute to her grandfather and is the epitome of the First Australian tradition of passing down knowledge and culture through generations. It is not only a beautiful acknowledgement of the influence her grandfather had on her life but also provides insight for readers into life in remote communities. Rogers’ skill in her art is evident in this, her first picture book, with the illustrations a riot of colour and bursting with life – oh those sumptuous endpapers!

Written in both Kriol and English the learning opportunities are so rich, and not confined to just the cross-cultural perspective. A shared reading will easily springboard into geography, discussion of family dynamics, memories, grandparents and more.

Rogers’ grandfather was a significant figure in her life as she was largely raised by him, after her mother became ill, and the learning she had from him and the memories created with him are now passed down to her own grandchildren and great-grandchildren. What a beautiful legacy and how very special this celebration of the circle of life is for young readers!

Teaching Tips are available as is a free audio reading by the author/illustrator at Allen & Unwin.

Highly recommended for your young readers from Prep upwards, particularly with Harmony Day approaching fast.

https://www.allenandunwin.com/documents/teachers-resources/2005-main-abija9781760526030tt

Hello and Welcome – Gregg Dreise

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Penguin Australia

  • March 2021
  • ISBN: 9781760898328
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $24.99

With absolutely spot-on timing for Harmony Day 2021, multi-talented Gregg Dreise’s new book – which is a stunning companion to My Culture and Me – once again celebrates our First Australian people. In joyful celebration, as all are welcomed to corroboree, this gorgeous book provides insight and understanding into Welcome to Country acknowledgements, incorporating  traditional Gamilaraay language of the Kamilaroi people. No matter which country you and your readers are in, this is a universal celebration of Indigenous culture and tradition.

Gregg is one of the most well-received presenters I’ve ever enjoyed in my library as he told stories, played, sang, and drew for our younger students – not to mention making us all laugh a lot! Aside from that, he’s a great guy with a passion for sharing understanding and stories to strengthen our recognition of both ancient and contemporary Indigenous culture – oh! and he’s a Queenslander – yayy! – with both Kamilaroi and Euahlayi heritage.

These delightful Indigenous students welcome visitors to their gathering, acknowledge their Elders – past, present and emerging – with verve and vivacity that is both engaging and exciting. So many of our own students will delight in recognising themselves, as they too will have represented their beautiful culture in their respective school settings – including, of course, my gorgeous Wiradjuri grandies.

You can watch Gregg’s own lively reading of Hello and Welcome via Storytime, Better Reading Kids – and it would be a fabulous share for your kiddos and the perfect addition to your Harmony Day celebrations. Better Reading also has a wonderful activity pack you can share. Learn more about Gregg on his website.

Hello and welcome to our corroboree.
Hello and welcome to our gathering.
Father Sky, Mother Earth, together here with me.
Different colours, different people, together in harmony.

My highest recommendation of course for this new one – thank you Gregg for another superb book!

Welcome, Child! – Sally Morgan

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Magabala Books

March 2021

ISBN 9781925936025

RRP: $12.99

Of course this is not the first book to celebrate the love with which they are received into their family for our littlest of readers, but it is one that specifically allows for our youngest First Australians to recognise themselves.

Sally Morgan’s simple but beautiful text, accompanied as it is with riotously colourful illustrations, is utterly exquisite and touching.

Stars alight, singing birds and dancing flowers combine to welcome the new child with all the warmth and unconditional love that families feel when they first embrace their child.

  Birds sing songs of delight to greet you.
    Flowers dance with joy to celebrate you.

Without doubt this would make a beautiful and much-appreciated gift for any newborn of your acquaintance, and one that will bring great joy with each repeated reading.

If you have a new little human in your circle, or indeed expecting one this delightful and vibrant board book will make a perfect welcome present.

Highly recommended for tiny peeps from birth onwards.

Magabala Magic

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It’s always exciting to open a package from Magabala. I find such joy in the wonderful stories shared by our talented Indigenous creators. Two such stunning books are recent additions to the Magabala book list and both are set to become highly acclaimed in all quarters.

My Story/Ngaginybe Jarragbe – Shirley Purdie

October 2020
ISBN 9781925936131

RRP $24.99

Told in English and Gija, this is Shirley Purdie telling her own story of her childhood and her world-acclaimed art. Born at Mabel Downs, Shirley was raised absorbing the knowledge and culture of her elders and in turn, now shares this wealth through her artworks.

The first in the new Kimberley Art Centre Series which focuses on ‘developing the skills of Kimberley Aboriginal artists in children’s picture book storytelling and illustration’ this is going to be a major player in cross-cultural perspectives for your young readers.

Shirley’s anecdotes of growing up: learning about bush tucker, ceremony, learning to paint from her famous mother, Madigan Thomas and others and daily life on Country, will fascinate children and inspire them to pursue their own artistic endeavours.

The launch of the book will coincide with the re-hanging of the 2018 National Portrait Gallery exhibition So Fine: Contemporary women artists make Australian history along with some wonderful cultural activities engaging with My Story.

Truly a beautiful book this will be a valuable addition to your Indigenous collection and your integration of cross-cultural knowledge.

Highly recommended for readers from around six years upwards.

Found – Bruce Pascoe and Charmaine Ledden-Lewis

August 2020

ISBN 9781925936483

RRP $24.99

Author and illustrator have together created a simple but beautiful story about a little calf separated from its mother and family. Set in the bush, the small creature finds other animals but none are his family and his emotions run high. The strong feelings will easily resonate with young readers who will relate to the anxiety and the ultimate joy of reunion.

While Bruce is always so adept at creating heartfelt narratives, for me it is the superb illustrations that truly make this book stand out. These are without doubt the most adorable cows you have ever seen!

Another to add to your collection and one that will delight the littlest of readers from around four years upwards. Highly recommended for both the joy of the reading and the rich discussions that will arise.

Aussie Kids series – Books #5 & #6

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Penguin Australia

July 2020

Get your little newly independent readers excited when you add these two new volumes to the Aussie Kids books! This is just a truly charming series as children take a vicarious trip around our beautiful country, learning a little about kids from other spaces, cultures and backgrounds as well as information about the particular locale.

Meet Mia by the Jetty – Janeen Brian and Danny Snell

  • ISBN: 9781760893668
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $12.99

Visit South Australia in this episode and meet Mia, who fancies herself a tour guide especially when visitor Jim is coming to stay. Mia knows her bossy older sister, Alice, will want to take over but she is very determined to take the lead in showing Jim the local sights of Victor Harbour, like the jetty, the island and the beach.

A delightful ride on a horse-drawn tram (the only one in Australia we learn) is a real highlight but building sandcastles and exploring the beach, including fairy penguin burrows, as well as whale spotting are also huge moments in Mia’s deluxe tour.

By the end of the day even Alice has to admit that Mia has been a pretty successful tourist guide and this is only the first day of Jim’s visit!

Meet Sam at the Mangrove Creek – Paul Seden & Brenton McKenna

  • ISBN: 9781760894122
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $12.99

This one is particularly special for me as we visit the Top End and go fishing with Sam and his cuz Peter among the mangroves. Sam has a brand new throw net and can’t wait to try it out. He’s really hoping to catch a big juicy barra but really needs a bit of tuition in using his net properly. Luckily for the boys an old-timer quietly sitting nearby knows just the right technique for success and while the barra eludes the pair, they do manage a nice little haul of good sized whiting. Pretty chuffed with their catch they plan to take them home until they notice that the old man seems to be ‘camped’ in the park with just a bag of clothes and a blanket. The boys show their gratitude by gifting their fish to the old Uncle and go home happily planning their next great fishing adventure.

This one not only allows some virtual exploration of a landscape which will be very different to that most children know but also an insight into First Australian culture. As it’s written and illustrated by two Indigenous creators, one knows that the language, actions and attitudes of the characters is completely authentic. Definitely a winner!

I’d be surprised if primary libraries haven’t yet taken up this series but if you haven’t, I’d strongly urge you to do so. I know that particularly for those units of inquiry that focus on Australia – landscapes and diversity (around Year 2 for me) would benefit hugely from the inclusion of this series with the narratives, maps and additional facts.

There are two more volumes to come so pick up the first six now if you have not yet done so. Naturally they would also make a superb addition to your own home library for children from around 5 years upwards.

Don’t forget to check out the activity pack and there is also a Teach at Home lesson.