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Today’s Sun

Today's Sun

Today’s Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Sun

Greg Dreisse

Puffin, 2021

16pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9781760898335

 

Dawn, the sun is yawning and it’s time to munch like “a hungry, fluffy possum.” As it rises over the horizon it is time to laugh like “a happy kookaburra.’ And as it warms, cools. fades and sleeps, there are times to hop like a kangaroo, run like an emu, snuggle like a koala, slumber like a wombat…

Using just black, white and a myriad of patterns, Greg Dreisse takes the young reader through a magical journey of the day, not only introducing them to some of Australia’s iconic wildlife but also encouraging them to note the passage of the sun and the passing of time.  There is a time for everything. And when today is done, there will be another one tomorrow.

September 15 is International Dot Day, the day celebrating creativity, courage and collaboration, inspired by The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.  The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe. 

This is the perfect book to encourage children of all ages to explore their creativity, to start their own illustration to add to the book starting by making a mark.  Just looking at the cover and exploring the number of ways Dreisse has made a dot by changing its size and fill could inspire a beginning and then a closer examination of the patterns used in the illustrations throughout will open up so many possibilities. 

Even though this is a board book with a target audience of the very young, it could be used with older students to investigate the origins, traditions and protocols of the dot artworks of First Australians, while others could explore the use of pattern to build movement, texture, and mood which the monochromatic scheme really emphasises.

A rich addition to any collection, regardless of its format and what it appears to be on the surface. 

Story Doctors

Story Doctors

Story Doctors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story Doctors

Boori Monty Pryor

Rita Sinclair

Allen & Unwin, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760526559

What do you do when you are expected to review a book like this when you know you don’t have the knowledge, the skills or even the authority to do so?  And the text is so lyrical, the illustrations so sublime and the message so powerful that you just feel overwhelmed.

You let the words of others do your work because you know they will convey the power and the beauty so much better.

This is from its blurb…

This is a book for everybody. Welcome! Take a seat! And listen carefully, because this story has a heartbeat. Can you feel it, there in your chest?

Legendary storyteller Boori Monty Pryor invites us to travel with him from the first footsteps through 80,000+ years of strength, sickness, and immense possibility.

From the very first stories and art, to dance, language, and connection with the land, Boori offers a powerful, beautiful, and deeply rich account of Australia’s true history, drawing on a lifetime of wisdom, and on his generous instinct to teach and heal.

An exquisitely illustrated celebration of the power of storytelling to unite us, how nature connects us, and the wonderful truth that the medicine needed for healing lies within us all.

This is an interview with the author from Radio National which gives so much insight.
And this, the first few lines that demonstrate not only their origins and the thinking behind them but also the lyricism of the entire text… the language used is masterful and so clever, particularly the written version rather than just the audio.

And finally this – the explanation of the mesmerising, thought-provoking afterword on which the whole book was founded…

 

With the theme of the 2021 NAIDOC Week being Heal Country, this is indeed,  “an empowering story for all Australians, acknowledging our true history, embracing inclusivity, and celebrating the healing powers of nature and culture” from Australia’s Children’s Laureate 2012-2013.  If ever there were a book that epitomised the theme of Australia: Story Country, then this is it and it is one for all ages. 

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

Diane Lucas & Ben Tyler

Emma Long

Allen & Unwin, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781760525958

When a walk through the forest becomes an opportunity to learn about the secrets of what grows and lives there, and to tell and hear the stories of its past peoples, you never know how long you will be, what you will hear or what you will see.  For this forest in Kakadu in the Northern Territory contains more riches than a pirate’s treasure trove with its plant life, insects, birds and creatures, their inter-connections and the stories they bring with them. Old man Kapirigi says, “You gotta watch those birds”, (the djuwe or northern bower bird} “they’ll steal your bones out of the cave when you die.”

Combining their knowledge of and passion for the land and its stories, the authors have created a text that carries the reader along with its narrative while being laden with the most remarkable information, embedding the Kundjeyhml language in so naturally that the English equivalents seem so bland and boring in comparison. And Emma Long’s line and watercolour drawings that span full page spreads down to tiny vignettes are just sublime, highlighting just how busy even a tiny leaf can be if we take the time to look and listen. Rather than using conventional speech indicators, an avatar depicts the speaker as they point out something or tell a story and the whole just becomes an engaging read and learning experience that makes you want to go out to really embrace and inhale the nearest bit of garden you can find.  Just because we can’t get to Kakadu right now doesn’t mean we can’t learn the lessons of observation, appreciation and conservation that this book offers. There is so much more than we usually see to discover – a new world that fits in perfectly with this year’s CBCA Book Week theme. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Lucas’s first book, Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu, published over 15 years ago led the way to opening up this land to our young readers so they could begin to understand its ancient stories and those who shared them and this stunning book continues the tradition. Look for it in the CBCA 2022 Eve Pownall Notables because it certainly deserves a place there. 

 

Main Abija My Grandad

Main Abija My Grandad

Main Abija My Grandad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main Abija My Grandad

Karen Rogers

Allen & Unwin, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760526030

As the loss of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is dominating headlines, the special relationship we have with our grandfathers has been thrown sharply into focus – the memories we made, the things we were taught… particularly if he, too, has passed and so there can be no more.

And so it is for Ngukurr great grandmother Karen Rogers who reflects on all that she learned from her grandfather, the adventures they add, the memories they made and how she is passing it all on to her grandchildren and great grandchildren in this enchanting story told in both her own Kriol language and English and illustrated with her bold illustrations, a talent inherited from her grandmother and great-aunts.  From school holidays spent on his outstation at Wuyagiba “near the saltwater” where he was a stockman, she recalls travelling in the old Toyota troopy to go fishing and swimming, and learning about  the land, its bounty and its secrets while they were there. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The stories are told in words and pictures that are inseparable, as the best picture books are, and the feelings of connection and the unending circle of life are strong.   It offers a wonderful opportunity to not only see how the author’s memories are common to all of us – there will be many, like me, who have sat and listened to their granddad tell stories as the sun sets over the ocean (or anywhere) or had their first fishing lessons under his guidance – but also to reflect on other memories and what they have already learned, despite being so young, that they will pass onto their own children.  Sitting in my loungeroom, untouched for years because I never mastered it is an expensive Yamaha piano, bought purely because of the memory of sitting on my grandfather’s knee while he played to me! 

Even though this is a story personal and unique to Ms Rogers, it is, at the same time, a universal one – and stories come no better than that. 

Hello and Welcome

Hello and Welcome

Hello and Welcome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello and Welcome

Gregg Dreise

Puffin, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760898328

Hello and welcome to our corroboree.
Hello and welcome to our gathering.
Father Sky, Mother Earth, together here with me.
Different colours, different people, together in harmony.

Welcome to Country has now become the norm before any formal gatherings in Australia and in this stunning book by Gregg Dreise, a companion to My Culture and Me, the reader is taken through this traditional welcome in the traditional Gamilaraay language of the Kamilaroi people.

Paying tribute to those who have gone before, their stewardship of the land they live on, the generosity of that land and thanking them for those who are here now and yet to come, the words are interpreted in traditional dance moves that have been passed down through generations.

If we want our students to respect these sorts of traditions, rather than pay lip service to them, then the more they understand the meaning and movements associated with them , the better. To enable this,  the initial words of welcome and their actions have been included so all children can join in.  The illustrations that depict ancestors sit alongside and intertwine with illustrations of how the modern day Kamilaroi people celebrate and thank Father Sky and Mother Earth demonstrating that this is a ceremony that embraces everyone and all can participate. Despite there being 250 Indigenous Countries within Australia, each with its own language and cultures, each shares a respect for Mother Earth, each other and sharing resources, so this book could inspire a new way of sharing that Welcome to Country.

Students in a Canberra school were challenged to examine the meaning of their local Welcome to Country text and to develop one that had meaning for them which would be used at the start of each day. This is the result from the Year 3 class in the Bungle Bungles unit. With students from preschool to Year 6 all undertaking this task at the beginning of the year, the principal reports there is not only greater understanding but greater harmony and respect for the environment across the school.

Welcome to Country

Welcome to Country

Aunty’s Wedding

Aunty's Wedding

Aunty’s Wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aunty’s Wedding

Miranda Tapsell $ Joshua Tyler

Samantha Fry

Allen & Unwin, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760524838

In the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin, it is time to get dressed for Aunty’s wedding.  But in this hot, humid climate it is not a time for long white dresses, high-heeled shoes and other fancy finery  – although Uncle, the groom, does dress “like a penguin”.  No, this is a time for a light, pretty hat, a wurrijinga in the hair or on the shirt, and a japalingini and pamijini for the bride…  But what is a wedding and why do we have them?

Beautifully illustrated with the meaning of the unfamiliar words made very clear, this is a story that not only celebrates Aunty’s wedding but also makes us think about the rites and rituals of other weddings the reader might have attended or seen.  Is Aunty any less married because her wedding ceremony is different or is Maningawu’s explanation of it being about love and two people publicly promising to care for each other forever at the core of all marriages and the rest of it just added extras?  What a stunning way to introduce an exploration into the ceremonies of the different cultures represented in the school. A worthy addition to the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection now available through the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature.

Tell ’em!

Tell 'em!

Tell ’em!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell ’em!

Katrina Germein, Rosemary Sullivan with the children of Manyallaluk School

Karen Briggs

Working Title Press, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781921504921

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.

 

 

Rocky and Louie

Rocky and Louie

Rocky and Louie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocky and Louie

Phil Walleystack & Raewyn Caisley

Dub Leffler

Puffin, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

 9780143786528

Rocky is a star Aussie Rules player and his little brother Louie adores him.  Rocky has taught Louie all sorts of footballing skills but more than that, he has taught him about their country and how to engage with it to both use it and protect it.  After they made a proper hunting boomerang together, Rocky taught him how to respect the animals and even though they might kill them for food, how to think about where that food comes from.  Rocky taught and Louie learned the legends and lessons of the land, forging a strong bond that would ensure that they would endure.

But Rocky has a dream to become more than just a local football star and to do that he must leave.  Louie is devastated but Rocky knows that he must go, just as Louie must stay.  What could Louie offer him to make sure that Rocky doesn’t forget him or his roots despite the pull and the attractions of the city.

While this is a powerful story about the love and bonds shared between brothers, it has an even stronger message about being connected to our heritage whatever that may be.  In this case it is that of Australia’s indigenous people and the lessons Rocky teaches Louie will help the reader understand that deep connection to country that our Aboriginal peoples have, helping them appreciate why they felt so bereft when so many were uprooted ruthlessly from families, events commemorated on  National Sorry Day on May 26. The theme of responsibility and respect for what has gone before that has shaped us into who we are now is very strong, but it also opens up the prospect of having to deal with change, with having to be unselfish and let others follow their destiny regardless of the impact on our comfort zone, and accepting and acknowledging that we are who we are because of those around us and we must be the best we can be to honour that and them. 

Co-written with Noongar man and emerging elder, Phil Walleystack, Raewyn Caisley (who has already given us the hauntingly beautiful Hello from Nowhere and Something Wonderful ) views this as her legacy with “the power to change our nation”.  For so many reasons, she could well be right.

Dreaming Soldiers

Dreaming Soldiers

Dreaming Soldiers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreaming Soldiers

Catherine Bauer

Shane McGrath

Big Sky, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781925675528

Jimmy Watson and Johnno Hogan were the best of friends – swimming-in-waterholes, camping-under-the-stars, sharing-water-bottles kind of friends. Throughout their lives they did everything together and even when their paths diverged because there were different rules and expectations for “white” and indigenous children then, they still came back together as close as they had ever been.  And then one day they went into town for supplies, heeded the call for men to fight in a war far away and enlisted…

This could be the story of any number of friendships of the early 20th century when ‘white’ and indigenous kids on farms formed friendships that were blind to colour, cultural differences or any other racial prejudices and its strong focus on that friendship is its positive. While the treatment of indigenous soldiers during the conflicts that Australia has been involved in since the Boer War in 1899 could have been its focus, its power lies in that spotlight on the friendship, the shared adventures and stories, the fears and hopes that are common regardless of skin colour. Teaching notes are available. 

As we prepare to commemorate an ANZAC Day like no other in living memory, with services online and driveway commemorations, this is a book to be shared at this time so we can think about the sacrifices made by those who have gone before to keep us safe, and renew our commitment to what we have to do now to keep others safe.  And if you can’t get this one in time for this year, there are plenty of other suggestions here

 

 

Landing with Wings

Landing with Wings

Landing with Wings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landing with Wings

Trace Balla

Allen & Unwin, 2020

80pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781760296957

Mira and her mother are moving from their home near the sea to the goldfields of the Bendigo area, somewhere very foreign to Mira and she has no idea what to expect.  Her life is being turned upside down and she writes a farewell letter to her favourite tea-tree, beginning her recording of this new adventure which is scary but also a teeeeeny bit exciting. “Just a bit. It’s sort of like not knowing what’s on the next page and wanting to turn it to see what happens.”

Like Miri, Trace Balla loves to observe nature by sketching it and so, inspired by a story she saw about a refugee Syrian girl in an Australian detention centre whose future was equally uncertain, she has taken Miri on this journey of having her life upended and gradually discovering this new place, one that takes her back to her indigenous roots of the Dja Dja Wurrung people until she finally finds her home.

This is another intriguing graphic novel from the creator of Rivertime and  Rockhopping  that is just as extraordinary as those predecessors because of the levels and layers within the story. While  on the surface it seems like a personal recount of moving from one place to another, emphasised by the first-person narrative and hand-written font, there is also a bigger picture journey being told, that of anyone whose life is suddenly and permanently disrupted and having to find their place in a new landscape, whether that is physical, emotional or metaphorical. If they are lucky, they will land with wings and with the insight of someone like Trace Balla to guide them, they will learn to reflect on their experience and understand how it has shaped them just as much as the original catalyst.

A silver lining of this current situation of isolation is that we now have the time to read and appreciate this book in all its nuances, for we have each had our own journeys and this encourages us to revisit, review and reflect on them and their impact. It is just what we need at this time to get our lives back into perspective and see the whole rather than just the daily detail, yet, as Balla illustrates, it is the daily detail that builds up the whole.