February 28, 2020
The preservation and sharing of First Australian languages and culture is of paramount importance as nations strive to not only keep their traditions intact but also to impart knowledge and understanding. Where better to start than with our youngest readers then?
This delightful little board book has been created by long-time artist Jill Daniels, from the remote community of Ngukurr. Jill is a Ritharrnu and Madarrpa woman from the South East-Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.
A simple bilingual counting book which features animals found on her country on beautiful double spreads with their names in both English and Ritharrnu, Jill’s traditional language, this will both delight and teach young children.
There is a comprehensive guide to pronunciation of sounds, spellings and the animals’ names which will aid those not familiar with this language.
Educators, librarians and caregivers alike will relish the opportunity to share this beautiful example of early cultural literacy and artwork.
Highly recommended for little people from birth to prep age
Back in 2013 Norma MacDonald introduced us to the sprightly joy of a little Spinifex mouse, elusive tiny creature of the Pilbara region in Western Australia– a creature many of us will never otherwise know or see.
Now Norma turns our attention full square onto the dangerous plight that faces not only these adorable little animals but so many others of our natural fauna – feral cats.
I admit it. I’m a cat person. I love our two cats and have owned many before them but I’m also equally passionate about protecting our native animals from them. The prevalence of feral cats, irresponsibly caused by white Australians, has wreaked havoc and continues to do so in our wildlife populations.
Lucky and Spike are out on their nocturnal adventure in search of food and are pursued by one such feral cat as well as a hunting owl. Thankfully in their terror they are able to hide close to the people who are around their campfire. The camp dog takes care of the cat but they still have to evade the owl. It’s a close escape for the intrepid pair – predators abound for such tiny residents of the Pilbara.
This is a great insight into desert natural life and an excellent starting point for simple discussions about protecting our precious species.
Highly recommended for children from about five years upwards.
Return of the Dinosaurs _- Bronwyn Houston
Over the years as a teacher-librarian I’ve probably lost count of the number of dinosaur books, both factual and fictional, I’ve seen or read or bought or circulated. This is the first one I have ever seen which incorporates an awareness of First Australian culture as Bronwyn Houston imagines what might happen if the dinosaurs returned to Broome.
The vibrant illustrations and simple but amusing text will appeal to young children, both boys and girls, and would lead to many discussions around country and time for all.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a huge supporter of Magabala Books and that the importance of teaching the children in our classrooms or libraries the respect and reverence for the history of our First People is dear to my heart.
Explore the Kimberley vicariously with your readers in the new year and make sure you put this book on your ‘to buy’ list. You will not be disappointed I know.
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.
- Author:Bronwyn Houston
- Illustrator:Bronwyn Houston
- Published:Oct 2014
- Size:205×245 (portrait)
I have been waiting till Picture Book month to post the review for this wonderful new counting book. It has already established itself as a favourite on our shelves for bedtime. Explore a lush tropical setting filled with vivid colours and familiar Australian birds and animals, while practising simple counting. From the gorgeous endpapers to the simple text, from the stunning artwork to the classy design, this is a real treasure.
Bronwyn Houston lives in Broome and is descended from the Nyiyaparil and Yindijibarndi people of the Pilbara region. She has previously collaborated on three other books but this is her first entirely solo effort – and one would truly hope not the last! Bronwyn draws on her environment for inspiration and that has truly transferred into this ‘richly textured’ new book.
From toddlers and up this is not ‘just another counting book’ but a feast for the eyes of little animal lovers everywhere.
Small has chosen her favourite page to share with you.
Comprehensive teaching notes and links to the AC can be found here.
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.