Tag Archives: Indigenous literature

Took the Children Away – Archie Roach/Ruby Hunter

Standard

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.

Hello and Welcome – Gregg Dreise

Standard

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!

Living on Stolen Land – Ambelin Kwaymullina

Standard

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

Standard

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.

A Swag of Magabala!

Standard

magabalaverthires-1100x1760

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.

Bubbay_s-Desert-Adventure-_low-res

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.

84342199_2443702669227126_3672316150408019968_o

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

xmum-s-elephant.jpg.pagespeed.ic.L4eDydKlqg

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!

Welcome to Country – Aunty Joy Murphy & Lisa Kennedy

Standard

welcome

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.

Mrs Whitlam – Bruce Pascoe

Standard

mrs_whitlam_high_res_.jpg

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

Standard

 

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.

gregg

crowd

ABC Dreaming – Warren Brim

Standard

abc_book_front_cover

Magabala Books

  • Published:Nov 2015
  • ISBN:9781922142627
  • Format:Paperback

 

RRP: $17.95

I have purposely saved this one for the start of the school year believing it to the most beautiful ABC book I have seen in a long, long time and so perfect for introducing your preppies to both the alphabet, Australian flora and fauna and Indigenous culture.

In particular as Warren is descended from the Djabugay  people of Far North Queensland, this is even more relevant to our Queensland schools as the illustrations depict the diverse wildlife and plants found in the Far North rainforests.

Each vibrantly colourful page shows an illustration of the chosen creature or plant in traditional Aboriginal style and colours.  An interesting exercise might be to research the actual descriptions and images with the children to make comparisons between the stylised and photographic versions.  And of course while there will be some familiar names to the children, others which are unique to the Far North may require some investigation.

Warren is a celebrated artist whose work you will know from Creatures of the Rainforest.

As usual Magabala has published another truly quality book that will make a perfect addition to any bookshelf whether home or library.

Highly recommended for toddlers up.

Deadly D & Justice Jones: #3 The Search – Dave Hartley & Scott Prince

Standard

 

Magabala Books

  • Published:Oct 2015
  • Pages:192pp
  • ISBN:9781925360011
  • Ages:Middle primary, Upper primary
  • Format:Paperback

RRP $12.95

deadlyd

The legion of fans that were captured by the first two Deadly D books will lap this one up as well!

And who wouldn’t be delighted to picture legendary coach Wayne Bennett caught up in a circus act?

In this new adventure Dylan and his best bro Justice are being stalked by some very scary clowns – scarier than most of their kind because really they are working for a very nasty villain known as the Ringmaster.  BIGTOP circuses are definitely not what they seem – Biological Investigation Group to Organise Prototypes is a despicable organisation kidnapping people with special abilities to steal their DNA and create clones. No wonder they are after Dylan AKA Deadly D!

To add to this Dylan’s mum finds some incriminating evidence about his regular Deadly D transformations and he confesses to his role playing for the Broncos. Without hesitation Dylan is packed off to his Nana’s back in Mt Isa for a bit of good old-fashioned ‘sorting out’.

But everything and everyone seems to be going into a meltdown when their hero Deadly D disappears and Supercoach Bennett enlists Justice to help him find the missing star. When they take off on their search they are not expecting to be kidnapped by BIGTOP stooges and used as bait to lure Dylan into their evil clutches.  With the usual high inks, near catastrophes, footy humour and general gentle mocking of Broncos legends, the adventure rockets along to a more than satisfactory conclusion.

This series has so much going for it – especially for those ‘hard to get at’ boys in your readership. Footy, positive Indigenous role models, terrific humour, ridiculous situations and triumphs of good vs bad – Hartley and Prince are really hitting the mark and let’s hope the series continue in the same engaging style.

Highly recommended for your lovers of footy especially – aged around 9 years upwards.

Check out the authors’ December 2015 tour here.