Waves – for those who come across the sea
Heather Potter & Mark Jackson
Black Dog, 2018
40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99
“If you are not an Indigenous Australian, your family have, at some stage, come to Australia from across the waves.”
“Every journey is perilous, every situation heartbreaking. Every refugee is a person forced by famine or war or fear to leave their
home, their families, their friends and all they know. Children have travelled on the waves of migration to the shores of Australia for
tens of thousands of years. This book tells some of their stories.”
In this poignant narrative non fiction that begins with endpapers forming a timeline of people and their vessels from 50 000 years ago to the present, we meet the fictional children who are representative of all those who have come before as they tell their stories of their situation and circumstances and their anticipation for a new life in a new land. War, famine and fear have forced each of them to leave all that is familiar and escape across the treacherous seas to safety and security with the waves of migration almost as regular as those that hit our shores interminably.
Somewhat reminiscent of the iconic My Place by Nadia Wheatley, each double-page spread presents a new child’s story, a snippet of the life that set them on the waves and the life they hope to have, softly and superbly illustrated to give life to the words.
From Anak who arrives by raft from Indonesia to settle in northern coastal Australia 55 000 years ago to the refugees of the the present day, it demonstrates how this nation has been shaped by those who have sought solace, safety and security here. But as well as bringing to life this country’s chronological migration history, it is also an opportunity to spark students’ interest in their own stories and to investigate the circumstances that brought their families across the waves. Naturally this would have to be done with some sensitivity as not all would be stories that parents would want to be shared especially if there were difficult or traumatic circumstances but it could fill parts of the identity jigsaw as well as stimulate greater understanding and empathy for others.
Teachers’ notes focusing on the History and English strands of the Australian Curriculum for Years 3-6+ are available.
If we are to put human faces to our history so that its study has relevance, meaning and connection for our young students, this is a must-have to be in every collection and to be promoted. It is indeed part of Australia: Story Country.