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.
As our summer merges into autumn with no abate to the warm weather seemingly, this will be a great read aloud for your smaller humans especially those who live near the water. Paul Seden’s picture book is chockfull of colour and activity as a family goes up the creek to try some crabbing.
With both Indigenous and non-Indigenous characters this is a truly inclusive story for children to celebrate this quintessentially Australian pastime of water recreation. Paul is Darwin-based and descended from the Wuthathi and Muralag people of North Queensland. His first successful foray into picture books, writing and illustrating, is based on his own experiences spending time with his family having adventures and fishing the creeks around Darwin.
One particularly enjoyable feature is the use of creative font to emphasise the onomatopoeia used throughout story which could easily take this book into a teachable moment. The story also lends itself well to writing and sharing children’s own recounts of their own family recreational adventures.
Two double-page spreads stand out for me. The first: a split view of Dad and the kids in the tinny and the variety of creatures under the surface of the creek – it is just gorgeous and so evocative of similar locations. The second: a highly annoyed captured crab – readers will love shouting out the ‘big angry crab’ text!
This really is a must have for your picture book collection and I highly recommend it for readers from Prep up to around Year 3/4.
Published: Jan 2011
Size: 245 x 205
Ages: Lower primary
Although this is an older picture book from Magabala’s catalogue, the fact that it has now had two reprints testifies to its value in any library collection or indeed home bookshelf.
A fictionalised telling of one girl’s experience as part of the Stolen Generation, it is based on what might have happened to the author’s own grandmother who was stolen away from her family. The illustrator’s grandmother was also a stolen child so both Trina and Norma are able to bring personal family stories and emotions to this work.
The story begins in a children’s home and the reader finds out how the girl arrived there through her recollections of her life before being taken. The reader is taken into the home with its harshness and lack of compassion but rather than dwell on the grimness of the situation, we become part of the girl’s dreaming hopes and her determination to return home.
In the spirit of Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence this little girl plans her route and at the right moment makes her escape homeward. As she sets off our hearts go with her, willing her safety and success in her journey.
A beautiful book which tells an important story, beautifully illustrated by highly successful Indigenous artist Norma MacDonald.
Find teaching notes for this book here.