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 definitely something different and a series to be watched. These two creators have drawn their narrative from all quarters: speculative fiction in its broadest sense – fantasy, sci fi, larger than life events, incorporating adventure, humour, and drawing on First Australians culture, history and spiritual beliefs.
Wylah has many fine qualities. She is helping to teach the children of her tribe, she not only loves but tends the mega-fauna creatures of her world, she is kind, determined and brave but she knows well she is no warrior yet, not like her beautiful Grandmother.
When her entire family and people are captured by a frightening dragon army, Wylah must gather her courage, and use all her wits and skills to rescue them. As she undertakes this perilous quest, her culture and her people underlie the help she is given as she takes on the role of Guardian.
There is no doubt that it will take some getting used to. Realistically, none of us are used to reading stories where anyone keeps mega-fauna as pets! But I love that this bold new series is taking Aboriginal culture and story-telling to a new audience with new ideas, whilst incorporating traditional beliefs.
I, for one, am looking forward to the next instalment. Highly recommended for readers from around Year 5 upwards.
There are some moments in Australia’s sporting history that are just complete standouts: Bradman’s first international century or, indeed, his final ‘duck’, Australia II crossing the finish line in the America’s Cup, Adam Scott’s US Masters playoff win or Cadel Evans’ triumph in the Tour de France, and Cathy Freeman’s Olympic glory is right up there alongside all of these. Those of us who were fortunate to witness her success still remember it very clearly. In fact, I was in Cairns having taken my late mother on a holiday and we happened to be in the casino at the time – the whole place came to a standstill as we watched Catherine Astrid Salome Freeman OAM blaze a trail for her mob, her country and her own personal victory.
Cathy’s memoir was a hugely successful book and now, younger readers, can follow her life story and her determination to succeed in this beautifully realised picture book. The facts of Cathy’s life and sporting career are easy to come by but the inspiration she can provide to young people, whether Australian or otherwise, is what sets this book apart.
Cathy’s words are, in and of themselves, a great recollection of her story but for young people, the illustrations from Charmaine Ledden-Lewis will not only truly bring this to life but to the forefront of their personal ambitions. I particularly love that Cathy concludes with her own Top 10 tips for kids to keep in mind as they pursue their own dreams.
This is a superb addition to your collection both as a fine example of First Nations literature and as a wonderful encouragement for your students, of all abilities. I highly recommend it to you for readers from around Year 2 upwards. I will certainly be suggesting it to our Year 3 cohort as they focus quite heavily on cross-cultural perspectives.
As NAIDOC 2021 draws to a close, this is such an important book to share with you, examining as it does the lives and incredible actions of seven inspirational First Australian heroes. Each of these amazing Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander figures contributed in immensely important ways to their people and to our nation, though some have been sadly overlooked in the general terms of history. How fitting it is that this book sheds light on not only some whose names are known to contemporary society but also some whose stories have been side-lined.
As far back as the arrival of the Europeans comes the first of these inspiring stories with the account of Patyegarang, the Darug woman who worked closely with Lt Dawes, officer and scientist with the First Fleet. These two worked together each learning the language of the other and compiling a list of Aboriginal words. The discovery of Dawe’s writings in 1972 has helped to revive the Darug language and, though we have no knowledge of Patyegarang after Dawe’s departure back to England, her legacy lives on with this important record.
The stories of the remaining six icons are just as fascinating: Bungaree, whose efforts were of such great aid to Matthew Flinders; Taronorerer, who rebelled against the white blackbirders and led her people in battle; Yarri and Jacky Jacky, rescuers of 69 people in the Gundagai floods of 1852; Mohara Wacando Lifu, first Indigenous woman to receive the Royal Humane Society’s Gold Medal for bravery; David Unaipon, known by many as the Black da Vinci and Fanny Balbuk Yooreel, resistance fighter and fierce protector of the environment.
Make no mistake each of these makes for compelling reading and the colourful spreads will engage readers’ interest in the text and give rise to much fruitful discussion.
Perfectly suited to classroom units of work exploring cross-cultural perspectives but also so very much worthwhile promoting as independent reading for readers from around year 3 upwards.
Highly recommended for your readers and your teachers alike..
This is the second in Helen Milroy’s exciting series Tales from the BushMob and will be as equally welcome as the first, Willy-willy Wagtail. Either as a read-aloud for your younger students or an independent read for your older ones this is definitely one to put on your list, especially with NAIDOC week coming up.
What is particularly lovely about this series is the message that working together with our friends and community we can solve problems which may otherwise seem insurmountable. The shared wisdom and experience of our friends can make all the difference and for Lofty the Emu, who desperately wants to win the big emu race but is too slow and clumsy, it is the knowledge and help of his bush mob mates who help him on his way to success.
Lofty seeks out his expert flier friends to teach him how to fly but as one might expect, despite their best efforts, emus are just not built for flying in the same way as Bat or Eagle or even Sugar Glider, so needs a solution that is completely unique. Luckily for Lofty, Platypus as the Bush Mob’s resident inventor, comes up with a very creative and highly effective solution which enables the emu to soar to success.
As some people might know the Emu in the Sky is a well-known Aboriginal astronomical constellation, with First Australians being the world’s first astronomers and this lively tale echoes this phenomena and will lead to discussions beyond that of written text. [In fact, it is the perfect time of year to observe this constellation.]
Highly recommended for independent readers from around 6/7 years upwards – or as a fun read-aloud, as part of your cross-cultural perspective in your teaching program.
‘Dijan buk gada ola memri ai bin abum gada main abija from wen ai bin lilgel til imin libu wi. Imin titjim mi loda tings bla koltja en bla kantri. Mi hepi ba pasim det stori la main femili en bla pudum la dis buk.’
‘This book has the memories I had of my grandfather from when I was small until he left us. He taught me many things about culture and country. I’m happy to pass this story on to my family and to put it in this book.’
Celebrated artist, Karen Rogers, comes from the Ngukurr Community in South East Arnhem Land and this is her absolutely amazing tribute to her grandfather and is the epitome of the First Australian tradition of passing down knowledge and culture through generations. It is not only a beautiful acknowledgement of the influence her grandfather had on her life but also provides insight for readers into life in remote communities. Rogers’ skill in her art is evident in this, her first picture book, with the illustrations a riot of colour and bursting with life – oh those sumptuous endpapers!
Written in both Kriol and English the learning opportunities are so rich, and not confined to just the cross-cultural perspective. A shared reading will easily springboard into geography, discussion of family dynamics, memories, grandparents and more.
Rogers’ grandfather was a significant figure in her life as she was largely raised by him, after her mother became ill, and the learning she had from him and the memories created with him are now passed down to her own grandchildren and great-grandchildren. What a beautiful legacy and how very special this celebration of the circle of life is for young readers!
Teaching Tips are available as is a free audio reading by the author/illustrator at Allen & Unwin.
Highly recommended for your young readers from Prep upwards, particularly with Harmony Day approaching fast.
In any other year we would be in the midst of NAIDOC celebrations but this has been no ordinary year for any of us. And given the global swell of awareness around the circumstances, past and present, of people of colour this is a most timely and resonating book.
One of my mantra words at present is manifesto. For me it epitomises passion, commitment, truth and transparency and it is the best fit word in my opinion to describe this powerful sharing from Ambelin.
Written prose/free verse style each section unpacks the words used for generations to mask the truth of our dispossessed First Australian peoples and provides a blueprint for all who are prepared to stand as one and support new understandings and pathways.
Each section deals with another aspect of the painful history of our present day nation and the way forward through understanding and action.
There is no part of this place that was not is not cared for loved by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander nation There are no trees rivers hills stars that were not are not someone’s kin
This is not a huge book but it is, without doubt, an important one to read, share, reflect upon and most importantly take to heart. For anyone seeking a clearer understanding of the need for ‘de-colonisation’ of Australia, empowering true cross-cultural perspectives and the achieving of a real and positive future for all Australians.
I cannot recommend it highly enough as an addition either to your own personal shelves or your library collection – I would suggest for secondary students as it does require a maturity of language and comprehension. If you seek to empower your young students in particular this is a ‘must have’.
This is the second in the beautiful and enlightening Our Place series and continues the sharing of cultural identity and perspective in a way that is easily accessible by even the youngest of readers.
This relatively simple story accompanied by its stunning illustrations eloquently defines the meaning of family in the Indigenous Australian context and the ways in which family, in the whole sense regardless of size or shape, connects us all.
The importance of songs and stories from elders, learning to care for mob and country and the special connection to ancestors “to who we are, to who we will be” are all entwined with the concept that family is heart and home to everyone.
Once again the superlative illustrations add so much depth and richness to the prose and young readers will delight in recognising familiar scenes with which they can relate even though the setting is likely very much different to their own.
I cannot recommend this series highly enough to you for your collection whether it is for use in your cross-cultural programs or simply as a joyful addition to your personal collection.