Tag Archives: Indigenous illustrators

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.

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.

 

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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