Katrina Germein, Rosemary Sullivan with the children of Manyallaluk School
Working Title Press, 2020
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
It starts with a little girl answering a question asked by an unseen asker – I know what you should tell ’em – and, apparently prompted by that unseen asker asking ‘what else?”, continues with a joyous celebration of the lives of the children as they share the activities of their community and country. And even though the children of this remote community live about an hour east of Katherine, NT much of what they do and enjoy is very similar to what all children enjoy because kids are kids, everywhere.
Tell ’em how us kids like to play.
We got bikes and give each other rides.
Tell ’em about the dancing and singing,
And all the stories the old people know.
Yes, there are things that may be unfamiliar like the buffalo and the crocodiles – “just freshwater ones” – and maybe families hunting for bush turkey, goanna and kangaroo for dinner might not be the norm for city kids but dancing and listening to stories and hunting for phone reception will all resonate.
But what threads through this achingly beautiful picture book apart from those similarities is the sheer delight and joy that these children have in their lives, the respect they have for their elders and their country and their understanding of the intertwining of the past, present and future.
I wonder what the children in our communities would share if they were asked the same question!
Maybe the first step could be figuring out the question these children were asked, and then given that most were so keen to get back to school after their enforced weeks at home, build a class response that helps them focus on why!
A stunning, exuberant joyful celebration of being a child that has to make you smile.