Tag Archives: Indigenous literature

Welcome to Country – Aunty Joy Murphy & Lisa Kennedy

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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.

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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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ABC Dreaming – Warren Brim

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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

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Magabala Books

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

RRP $12.95

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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.

Stories for Simon – Lisa Miranda Sarzin & Lauren Briggs

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Random House Australia Children’s

May 2015

RRP $24.99

ISBN 9780857987440

We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and CelebrateNAIDOC theme 2015

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Kevin Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generations in February 2008 was momentous for all Australians – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. And it is critically important that we teach our children the significance of this in order to nurture the healing in a meaningful way and to promote a positive future for all our people.

This beautifully written and illustrated book is destined to be a key title in this educative process for younger children as the collaborators (and long-time friends) transform the huge issues surrounding this acknowledgement of a dark time in our nation’s history into a story that even small children can readily grasp.

Simon collects many beautiful things such as shells and feathers and fossils. When he is sent a boomerang as a gift to start a new collection, he immediately takes it to school to show everyone. The old newspaper in which it is wrapped becomes the focus of many questions as the teacher spots these words “For the pain, suffering and hurt, we say SORRY”.  After the class’ discussion about this tragic history, Simon’s thoughts and dreams reflect his new knowledge. A dream of raining ‘sorry’ stones becomes a reality and the beginning of a new friendship, a new ‘collection’ of special stories and a new appreciation of First Australians’ past.

Sarzin and Briggs were mentored throughout the creative process by Indigenous Elder Vic Simms, ensuring that both text and illustrations were sensitively handled with all due respect.  He says ‘I believe this book will generate interest, understanding and reconciliation for the future, starting with the minds of children and by telling a story that is seen through their innocent eyes.’

Suzy Wilson, founder of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, states ‘This book is a welcome and important addition to school libraries and bookshelves everywhere. It will provoke important conversations between parents and children, in classrooms and throughout the community’.

Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes, Michael O’Loughlin and the Goodes O’Loughlin (GO) Foundatio endorse the book and all royalties  will be donated to the Foundation.

Find teaching notes here.

Highly recommended for all readers, particularly younger Primary students, this is a must have for your collection to continue developing cross-cultural understandings.

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Bubbay: a Christmas Adventure – Josie Wowolla Boyle/Fern Martins

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  • Published :Oct 2012
  • Pages: 48
  • ISBN: 9781921248726
  • Ages :Lower primary
  • Format: Hard Cover

Teaching notes can be found here.

 

With themes about loneliness/friendship/hope and Christmas, this is a timely book as we get closer to Christmas..

Bush magic is always special and when it comes at Christmas time, it’s even more special. Bubbay is a little boy who lives alone in the desert, looking after his herd of goats. The only human with whom he has contact is Mrs Timms. He swaps goats’ milk for eggs and while he is generally happy in his own company there are times when he does get lonely so he always enjoys his visits with Mrs Timms.

This Christmas Eve is different though. Bubbay feels sad when he thinks about everyone else getting ready for festive celebrations in their homes – and suddenly, more than anything, he wishes he had a Christmas tree, presents, a home and a family.

Imagine his surprise when a streak of shimmering light swoops down from the sky before him and a little Christmas tree appears. Even more surprising is that the tree talks to him! It tells him that if he can find five very special items for decorations on its branches, he will have a very special Christmas!

A stone, a feather, an egg and a seed might not be too difficult to find – but a shell? In the desert?

How will he ever manage such a task?

Suddenly, the glow of his own little fire reveals old grandmother Gubarlee appearing to the sound of tapsticks and singing.  Throughout the rest of the magical Christmas Eve Gubarlee guides Bubbay to find each of the special decorations – and they finish just in time for sunrise.

As the desert dawn floods the landscape with light, Bubbay sees Mrs Timms approaching, her arms wide open, inviting him to come and be her own little boy.  Truly this is a very special Christmas for both these characters, finding comfort, company and love in each other’s presence.

A lovely and gentle tale about reaching out to others in the real and the spiritual worlds, lavishly illustrated with vibrant colours depicting the desert and it’s animal inhabitants.

Highly recommended for Lower/Middle Primary children.

Look and See – Written and Illustrated by Shane Morgan

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Look and See

Magabala Books

August 2014-08-03


  • ISBN:9781922142221

Paperback. 32 pp

RRP $14.95

What a delightful Early Reader book this is!  Apparently first released 1999, this a super picture book with simple text and striking illustrations for beginning readers.

Earthy colours and an array of Australian native fauna are combined to give the developing young reader a resonant reading experience. This is the Australian version of those wonderful PM Early Readers my Year 1s thrived on many years ago. The  rhyming text is not complex but also never dull.

Shane Morgan, can you please do some more?

I love the simple and repetitive but not ‘same’ text and I adore the stylised illustrations with the echoed colours.

Look at the emu, running so fast. See the emu, he caught me at last!

If you have Preppies, children challenged to read or young disengaged readers, this is a terrific book – and I do hope to see more.

 

Highly recommended for emerging readers or your kids who may be struggling with reading.