Tag Archives: Indigenous authors

Living on Stolen Land – Ambelin Kwaymullina

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Magabala Books

July 2020

ISBN 9781925936247

RRP: $22.99

In any other year we would be in the midst of NAIDOC celebrations but this has been no ordinary year for any of us. And given the global swell of awareness around the circumstances, past and present, of people of colour this is a most timely and resonating book.

One of my mantra words at present is manifesto. For me it epitomises passion, commitment, truth and transparency and it is the best fit word in my opinion to describe this powerful sharing from Ambelin.

Written prose/free verse style each section unpacks the words used for generations to mask the truth of our dispossessed First Australian peoples and provides a blueprint for all who are prepared to stand as one and support new understandings and pathways.

Each section deals with another aspect of the painful history of our present day nation and the way forward through understanding and action.

There is no part of this place
that was not
is not
cared for
loved
by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander nation
There are no trees
rivers
hills
stars
that were not
are not
someone’s kin

This is not a huge book but it is, without doubt, an important one to read, share, reflect upon and most importantly take to heart. For anyone seeking a clearer understanding of the need for ‘de-colonisation’ of Australia, empowering true cross-cultural perspectives and the achieving of a real and positive future for all Australians.

I cannot recommend it highly enough as an addition either to your own personal shelves or your library collection – I would suggest for secondary students as it does require a maturity of language and comprehension. If you seek to empower your young students in particular this is a ‘must have’.

Family – Aunty Fay Muir & Sue Lawson. Illustrated by Jasmine Seymour

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Magabala Books

July 2020

ISBN 9781925936285

RRP: $24.99

This is the second in the beautiful and enlightening Our Place series and continues the sharing of cultural identity and perspective in a way that is easily accessible by even the youngest of readers.

This relatively simple story accompanied by its stunning illustrations eloquently defines the meaning of family in the Indigenous Australian context and the ways in which family, in the whole sense regardless of size or shape, connects us all.

The importance of songs and stories from elders, learning to care for mob and country and the special connection to ancestors “to who we are, to who we will be” are all entwined with the concept that family is heart and home to everyone.

Once again the superlative illustrations add so much depth and richness to the prose and young readers will delight in recognising familiar scenes with which they can relate even though the setting is likely very much different to their own.

I cannot recommend this series highly enough to you for your collection whether it is for use in your cross-cultural programs or simply as a joyful addition to your personal collection.

Top End Girl – Miranda Tapsell

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Hachette Australia

APR 28, 2020 | 9780733642432 | RRP $32.99

A deadly memoir about being bold, black and brave in work, life and love

As Reconciliation Week closes for another year how timely is it that I can share this impressive and inspirational memoir from the pint-sized dynamo Miranda Tapsell.

Many will know her from The Sapphires and more still from the recent movie which she co-wrote and starred in, Top End Wedding.

This memoir recounts her growing up in the Territory mostly focusing on Darwin, her determination to make it as a creative in such a tough industry and her passionate advocacy for her people, culture and country. Readers will follow Miranda’s journey from stage-struck Larrakia Tiwi kid to lauded actress and writer with delight while, at the same time, applauding her resilience, tenacity and self-belief. What a fabulous example to other young Indigenous kids aspiring to follow their own dreams!

It’s a testament to the readability of this book that I read it over just three (week) nights. Miranda infuses her writing with the same vivacity and joy she demonstrates on-screen along with much humour and a very down-to-earth attitude. She doesn’t hold back on her views about the ongoing struggle of our First Australian peoples and I would encourage anyone who wants to know more about both the past and the current state of play in this regard to pick this up and read it, reflect and, hopefully, act.

Sadly it is not just in our country that the racial issue continues to raise its ugly head as this week’s news unfortunately shows. It would seem that though the years roll on there are still so many who choose to remain ignorant and inhuman simply from their innate prejudices.

Miranda has added another string to her creative bow with this debut book. I for one hope that she will continue to produce more writing particularly with reference to opening the minds and hearts of fellow Australians.

I hardly need to say I recommend this highly for any reader from teen upwards – an important and deadly addition to any reading list.

Magabala Magic

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As you know any books from Magabala make my heart sing because a) they are always so beautiful b) they enable me to promote the First Australian culture which is so important to my family. Here are three of the newest titles:

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Brother Moon – Maree McCarthy Yoelu & Samantha Fry

March 2020

ISBN 9781925936827

RRP: $24.99

This is a beautiful and powerful story that has been inspired by the author’s great-grandfather sharing it with her in her childhood.

Beneath a dark night sky in the Northern Territory, beautifully captured in the atmospheric illustrations, a great-grandfather shares with his great-grandson his deep connection with his brother the moon which guides him his connection to country. He details how the phases of the moon let him know the proper time for hunting and fishing providing sustenance and underlines the importance of our relationship with the natural world.

Great-grandpa Liman is a masterful storyteller and as an elder has the privilege of teaching his young descendant about this important aspect of culture and living in harmony with country.

This provides not only a significant topic for use with Indigenous children but is a valuable resource for cross-cultural studies in the classroom when investigating the moon and night sky topic. [ACARA: researching knowledges held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples regarding the phases of the moon and the connection between the lunar cycle and ocean tides (OI.3OI.5)]

Liman (Harry Morgan), the author’s grandfather, was a respected Wadjigany man — a leader amongst his people and the community. Liman was born at Manjimamany in the Northern Territory in 1916. He was a canoe maker, hunter, community mediator, and a family man who lived off the land and travelled the seas. Liman spoke Batjamalh, his first language, and other languages from the Daly River area.

Find teaching notes here

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Mum’s Elephant – Maureen Jipiyiliya Nampijinpa O’Keefe/Christina Booth

April 2020

ISBN 9781925936728

RRP: $17.99

This was a joy to read and has already been shared to great success. O’Keefe has created a very special narrative from a childhood memory of her mother’s prized ‘elephant’. Growing up in a remote community the family did not have many possessions but the ‘elephant’ was a particular focus in the sense of community and connection. Her mother would lovingly tend to the ‘elephant’ and often slept with it beside her bed.

Throughout Booth’s illustrations carefully deepen the wondering about the ‘elephant’ and how it could possibly be so important – or indeed even exist. Readers will love to conjecture as to it’s true purpose as gradually more clues indicate it’s actual identity.

The ultimate revelation will lead to some wonderful discussions on similarly important items in children’s own homes and the significance of special objects in creating strong bonds in our personal circles.

Respect

Respect – Aunty Fay Muir, Sue Lawson. Illustrated by Lisa Kennedy

May 2020

ISBN 9781925936315

$24.99

This the first in a new four-part series which will be of primary importance in any teaching program or for sharing with young readers.  This creative team, who need no introduction, have once again produced a book which will become a staple in any cross-cultural discussions or units of work.

Through lyrical text and absolutely stunning illustrations readers are shown the importance of family, particularly with regard to the need to listen, learn and share. While this is of paramount regard within First Australian culture, there can be no argument that it is also a vital lesson for any of our young people.

This gentle literary walk through a way of life and society that is the oldest in existence in the world, the significance of country and nature and the sharing of stories will delight and engage any young readers whilst also informing adults.

Find teaching notes here.

As always my highest recommendations go with these fabulous new titles from our leading Indigenous publishing company.

My copies are already in use in my daughter’s classroom as she guides the Indigenous children at her school in their culture and have been very well-received.

My Culture and Me – Gregg Dreise

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Penguin

May 2019

ISBN: 9780143789376

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $24.99

Gregg’s first picture books were contemporary styled versions of traditional stories told to him by his family and elders. They were beautiful, joyous and hugely popular with my readers.

This latest diverges a little but is a glorious celebration of First Australian culture. As readers of this blog are well aware by now, my girls and grandies are Wiradjuri people. This Friday Miss K will play a significant role in her school’s belated NAIDOC celebration and of course I will go to my school late so I can see it! Her mum would be so proud of this deadly young woman – as indeed am I.

In this vibrantly illustrated and lyrically written book Gregg explores and elucidates beautiful highlights of Indigenous culture – a ‘call to arms’ almost for all Australians, whether Indigenous or not, to admire the affinity with country and culture held dear by First Australians.

I particularly love the subtle (or maybe not) inclusion of Gregg himself in the illustrations, a proud Kamilaroi and Euahlayi man, who through his artistry and performance brings the ‘culture, unity and wisdom’ to his audiences.

Having had the privilege of seeing Gregg present to our younger students in 2017 I can thoroughly endorse not only his entertaining and informative presentations but his beautiful and generous spirit.

Highly recommended to all who are looking for special books of inclusion.

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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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