Zola and the Christmas Lights – Melina Marchetta/Deb Hudson
For the entirety of the delightful What Zola did On… series, Melina Marchetta consistently delivered such beautiful and meaningful messages to young readers around diversity, community, empathy, friendship and family, all without once becoming preachy or tedious. It truly was joyful to read each new instalment. Now Zola has her very first (and let’s hope, not last) picture book and once again Zola’s story embodies all that made the chapter books so special.
Before school finished up I had the pleasure of sharing this gorgeous book with at least five different classes from Prep to Year 3 and all not only loved it, but also keenly participated in predicting and postulating. It was a highlight of my last few weeks of casual teaching.
Best of all for the very diverse population of children with whom I shared this, there was not one who could not identify with some aspect of this Australian celebration, from my sweet girl who so excitedly told me ‘we have a lantern just like that for Ramadan and my mum wears [that]’ i.e.a hijab, to the ones who could talk earnestly about some people finding it hard to buy groceries, to the ones who had already put up Xmas decorations. We really did have such fun and such richness from it.
Of course the narrative is beautifully illustrated by Deb Hudson, whose work enhanced the chapter books so ably but now explodes into a perfect riot of colour and detail.
It’s not too late to pick up a copy and share with your own little people – and enjoy the talk about what our various celebrations mean to us all.
Highly recommended for readers from 4 years upwards.
Another stunning addition to the Welcome to Our Country series from this fabulous team of creators. This is, undoubtedly, one of the most highly acclaimed resources for inclusive teaching of cross-cultural perspectives in the classroom and I have yet to see or hear anyone say otherwise.
Both Adam and David drew on their own childhood experiences of being taken on country to connect with land and family as their inspiration, and augmented this with specific research. The authenticity of both text and illustrations attest to the success of this.
When their Mum takes Lucy and David back on country there is so much for them to see and learn: meeting family, camping out under the amazing sky of stars that one only experiences outback, learning about welcome to country, the significance of fires, ancestors, stories, rock paintings and more.
The fabulous endpapers detail the language words used with their English equivalent and there’s a link and QR code at the end of the book to discover resources, a reading of the book and glossary – making it a perfect learning experience whether in the classroom, library or at home.
I know there are many who have been eagerly anticipating this next (#3) in the series and we know there are still two more to come – how exciting is that!? Don’t delay if you have not yet added these – they are an absolute MUST for your collection and highly recommended for little jarjums from Kindy to around Year 3.
Goodjagah, little one, walk with me … I want to tell you our Dreaming as the Elders told it to me. Award-winning storytellers, Gunai woman Kirli Saunders and Bigambul man Dub Leffler, explore a deep love and respect for Country and all her spirits … past, present and beyond.
This is a truly beautiful book which was warmly embraced by the Year 3 class with whom I shared it. We all loved the text – which has the effect of being both soothing and gentle -and the children loved guessing the meaning of the words in language used throughout.
Kirli’s lyrical and poetic words are so superbly matched by Dub’s visually eloquent illustrations. We were all entranced with our close examination of them, and the chosen palette of subdued colours not only evokes the colours of the bush, but further added to the sense of calm our reading conjured up.
Mother and puggle echidna wander through the pages as the narrator explains the meaning, depth and wisdom of the chosen Dreaming. Many will think that there is only one Dreaming in First Nations culture, without realising that for each nation or language group there will be both similarities and differences across the traditional stories. One thing in common however is the paramount importance of the love and respect for Country. This is a concept which all Australians should take on board and, indeed, more and more non-Indigenous citizens are beginning to deepen their connection with the land.
It is without doubt one of the most emotive picture books I’ve seen this year and, certainly, one that is valuable for our sharing of cross-cultural perspectives. I highly recommend it to you for your readers from as early to Prep right up to upper primary, where it will do much to promote understanding and respect.
This is the beginning of the Pitjantjatjara version of 2016’s award-winning book Too Many Cheeky Dogs. Pitjantjatjara is a First Nations language widely spoken in central and southern Australia, It is long overdue that our children’s books be translated into First Nation languages and let’s hope we see many more forthcoming.
Of course, we don’t all speak Pitjantjatjara but don’t worry – there is an English translation included at the back of the book – or you could share both editions – Standard English and Pitjantjatjara – in the same unit of work. Help your jarjums learn their colours, numbers and days of the week bi-lingually this year!!
On Monday I walked to my auntie’s house and guess what I saw?