Tag Archives: Indigenous culture

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..

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.

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

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.

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.

A Swag of Magabala!

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Opening a parcel from Magabala Books is always such a joy! I love seeing what our First Australian authors and illustrators have created and they enable me to share rich culture and boundless talent with my readers.

First up is the absolute little treasure of a book:

Girls Can Fly – Sally Morgan/Ambelin Kwaymullina

girls-can-fly

March 2020


ISBN978-1-925936-75-9

RRP: $16.99

Talented mother and daughter Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina have crafted a beautiful and inspirational book for tweens and teens drawing on their own life experiences. In a riot of colour and thoughtful and pithy texts for each thought, girls will find themselves dipping into this again and again. Young girls from the Kimberley and Pilbara Girls program were invited to offer feedback and their own thoughts on an early draft of the book and they are beautifully acknowledged at the back of book with photographs and information about the successful and transformational program

If you are looking for a special book for a young girl in your life, a worthy addition to  your collection or perhaps a new ‘feature’ book for upcoming International Women’s Day this would be a superb choice. I think mine will go to my girl first of all and then will spread its ripples among some of my students in my new library.

Highly recommended for girls from around 10 upwards.

 

 

Bubbay’s desert adventure – Josie Wowolla Boyle. Illustrated by Fern Martins.

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March 2020

ISBN978-1-925936-79-7

RRP: $17.99

The Australian outback is a lonely place. For some it’s very isolation and empty spaces hold even more loneliness. For Bubbay, a little boy on his own with just his herd of goats and the stars for company, it is even more so. He does have one other person to occasionally visit. Mrs Timms lives down on the plains and sometimes Bubbay trades his goat milk for her eggs. He doesn’t know how fondly Mrs Timms regards him so when he wishes for  a family of his own and Gubbarlee the grandmother appears to him with a quest he has no idea what joy lies ahead.

With the help of Gubbarlee as well as kangaroo, emu, bower bird and crow Bubbay fulfils his magical quest and gains the family love he so craves.

This is a simple and heart-warming story which underlines the need of all children to feel treasured and safe. The illustrations are perfect – with a dream-like mystical quality that enhances the text and allows the readers to explore their own imagination.

Highly recommended for young readers from around 5 years upwards.

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Mum’s Elephant – Maureen Jipyiliya Nampijinpa O’Keefe and Christina Booth

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April 2020

ISBN: 9781925936728

RRP: $17.99

No, you wouldn’t expect to find an elephant in the Australian outback especially in a very remote community but to a child what might be an ‘elephant’ can well be something just as special and significant. The author has taken an endearing memory of her childhood and woven it into a delightful and oft humorous story for little readers of her mother’s most prized possession.

Growing up in the Northern Territory remoteness near Tennant Creek O’Keefe recalls the importance of her mother’s ‘elephant’ and the role that it played in creating bonds and community sharing on their remote station homeland.

As to be expected Christina Booth’s illustrations are evocative of the harsh red outback and with skill keep the true identity of the elephant tantalisingly hidden until the final reveal.

This is just simply delightful and will, I have no doubt, resonate with young children who will want to nominate their own mothers’ special treasure as well as with adults who may well have their own fond memories of their mum’s ‘special elephant’.

Again, highly recommended for little readers and highly suitable for Prep onwards, particularly when integrated with exploration of family and community.

 

All three are available for pre-order now so don’t miss out on adding these to your shelves!

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.

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.

Monster Party – The Children from Rawa with Alison Lester & Jane Godwin

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Magabala Books

September 2018

ISBN:9781925360554

RRP: $17.99

Described by the publisher as an ‘explosion of fun and pure joy’ this is a delightfully riotous and exuberant picture book full of colour and humour. The Rawa Community School is on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert and the children there helped to write the text along with Alison and Jane and provided all the cut-out illustrations. What an experience it must have been for all as these two celebrated authors worked alongside the middle school students drawing out all their creativity and their own Martu cultural knowledge.

Some very crazy looking monsters emerge from Dora Lake giving the children a little scare before going completely bonkers all around the place, even to school which completely disrupts a good day’s learning!

Loaded with rhyme, rhythm and some wonderful onomatopoeia cleverly highlighted in large colourful fonts, this will be a real hit with little ones either to read by themselves or as an enthusiastic read-aloud.

Highly recommended for little readers from around toddlers upwards!