- 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.
Author: Bruce Pascoe
Published: Jun 2016
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.
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.
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.
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.
Find them on Facebook. Click on their logo above for more information.