Tag Archives: Indigenous authors

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Return of the Dinosaurs _- Bronwyn Houston

Magabala Books

November 2016

ISBN:9781925360370

RRP $17.99

Over the years as a teacher-librarian I’ve probably lost count of the number of dinosaur books, both factual and fictional, I’ve seen or read or bought or circulated. This is the first one I have ever seen which incorporates an awareness of First Australian culture as Bronwyn Houston imagines what might happen if the dinosaurs returned to Broome.

The vibrant illustrations and simple but amusing text will appeal to young children, both boys and girls, and would lead to many discussions around country and time for all.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a huge supporter of Magabala Books and that the importance of teaching the children in our classrooms or libraries the respect and reverence for the history of our First People is dear to my heart.

Explore the Kimberley vicariously with your readers in the new year and make sure you put this book on your ‘to buy’ list. You will not be disappointed I know.return_of_the_dinosaurs_high_res_

Welcome to Country – Aunty Joy Murphy & Lisa Kennedy

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Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781922244871
Imprint: BLACK DOG BOOKS
Distributor: Harper Collins Distribution Services for Australia and New Zealand

Release Date: August 1, 2016

RRP $24.99

Readers of this blog will already be aware of my passion for our Indigenous creators. As a proud mother and grandmother of Wiradjuri kids I particularly appreciate being able to share so many aspects of both traditional and contemporary First Australian culture.

This book is just beautiful – simply stunning. Aunty Joy Murphy is an Elder of the Wurundjeri People and her text provides an embracing and generous welcome into the culture of her community. An experienced and well-respected consultant to government bodies in Victoria, this is her first book.

Welcome to the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri People. We are part of this land and the land is part of us. This is where we come from. Wominjeka Wurundjeri balluk yearmenn koondee bik. Welcome to Country.

I have observed that while many Australians are now well used to a ‘Welcome to Country’ at gatherings, there are few who understood the ‘why’ or ‘how’ of this. This is just one aspect explained in this text.

The fabulous and atmospheric illustrations by Indigenous artist Lisa Kennedy provide a perfect backdrop to the text as the book outlines simply and accessibly various aspects of the Wurundjeri People’s history and place.

If you are seeking books which will offer a rich experience for cross-cultural studies, this is a marvellous addition to your collection. It will certainly be used in my forthcoming unit of inquiry with the lower school girls.

Highly recommended for sharing throughout all primary classes.

Steve Goes to Carnival – Joshua Button & Robyn Wells

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Magabala Books

  • Published: Jul 2016
  • ISBN: 9781925360219
  • RRP $24.95

 

What a joyous feel-good book this is! I suppose to be honest I wasn’t expecting a book from Magabala to be about a gorilla in Rio – but why not?!

Steve is a gorilla and he lives in a zoo in Rio. His favourite person is his keeper Antonio and both of them just love to listen to jazz in the evenings.  One night after Antonio has left Steve feels lonely so decides to go looking for his friend.  Of course he knows he will need a disguise and luckily picks up a hat at the tram stop outside the zoo. Off he goes through the lively city, past the favelas and over the hillside and is thrilled to find shimmying sequined dancers and exploding fireworks in the city streets. It’s Feliz Carnaval he hears the sambistas cry out.

Following the sound of a saxophone Steve finds his friend Antonio playing at the Blue Jaguar Club and Steve is swept onto the dance floor by a beautiful dancer. As they spin and swirl, Steve’s hat falls off – oh no! and everyone can see he is a gorilla. Calmly the dancer puts his hat back on and off they go again, dancing till dawn.]

This is a riot of colour, shapes, lines and textures all of which combine to produce exactly the right exuberance of a city in the grip of its most colourful celebration. Joshua’s fascination with both gorillas and Brazil was the germ of this story which has taken some years to produce in collaboration with Robyn. It’s a technicolour dream that comes alive on the page – in a beautifully presented book.

It is well worth the wait and what a fabulous way to introduce young readers to another culture! (particularly with the Rio Olympics coming up!)

Highly recommended for readers from Prep upwards.

 

Mrs Whitlam – Bruce Pascoe

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Magabala Books

Author: Bruce Pascoe

Published: Jun 2016

ISBN: 9781925360240

Ages: Middle primary, Upper primary, Young Adult

 

I am very quickly becoming very enamoured of Bruce Pascoe’s writing for young people (not to mention for adults). He is really deft at making his young adult characters believable and contemporary without relying on current vernacular or props to make them so.

 

Marnie is horse mad but from a family that precludes her from owning one of her own. But a woman in her town who has sadly lost her daughter gives Marnie not only the horse but all its tack. Unfortunately, even owning her own horse and being a competent rider doesn’t quite cut it with the other teens at pony club. Their attitude towards an Aboriginal girl in their midst is far from welcoming particularly when she is riding a Clydesdale called Mrs Whitlam.

 

However Marnie has a strong family and her own inner strength. When she and Maggie (aka Mrs Whitlam) rescue a child from the surf and seals a growing friendship with George Costa, the Golden Boy of the school, she becomes a heroine and her acceptance in a worthy circle of friends is confirmed.

 

This is an evocative text which illustrates the sometimes sly racist attitudes in Australian towns but is never ‘preachy’ which makes it all the more powerful.

Marnie and Maggie make a formidable duo and not least of all because of their individual strengths and loyalty.
Highly recommended for readers in Upper  Primary to Lower Secondary.

Mad Magpie – Gregg Dreise

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Magabala Books

May 2016

ISBN 9781925360066

RRP $24.99

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.

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Magabala Books

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Located in beautiful Broome  Magabala  Books is Australia’s leading independent Indigenous publishing house. Click on their logo above to go to their home page. Since 1990 Magabala has been working to preserve and promote Indigenous culture, knowledge and people.  A not-for-profit Aboriginal-owned and run organisation, Magabala has now published more than 150 books across a range of genres and their logo of the bush banana, from which they take their name, has become synonymous with quality Indigenous literature. They are proud to support emerging Indigenous writers and artists with their Australian Indigenous Creators’ Scholarships.

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A significant number of their published titles have been awarded prizes including the the Prime Minister’s Award, WA Premier’s Award, Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year and Deadly Award Outstanding Achievement in Literature.

It has been my great pleasure to be able to review the fantastic titles I’ve received from Magabala and this week Just So Stories is proudly celebrating Picture Book Month with some deadly titles from this great publishing house.

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Find them on Facebook. Click on their logo above for more information.

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