Review Blog

Nov 22 2011

The moon and the gecko : Patjuka wura Punu : story from Paakantji Community by Pajantji Community with Liz Thompson

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Sharing our stories (series). Pearson Education. 2011 ISBN 978 1 4425 4691 2
(Ages 8+) Recommended. Aboriginal folklore. This charming Creation story from the Paakantji people of Wilcannia tells how the land came to be, through the tale of one jealous young man and his uncle and his two wives. The lad tricks his uncle into climbing high into a tree looking for grubs, but when his uncle is a long way up, the boy creates a wind which makes the tree sway. Uncle catches hold of the sky and the boy is able to get all the grubs for himself. The uncle becomes the moon and his image can still be seen there. The wives, angry with Punu, call their dingoes and they attack the boy, going off into the sandhills where they become bull ants. Punu turns into a gecko and lives behind the bark in the tree. Each part of the story tells how something came to be in the Wilcannia area, and reminds the listeners of the places in their area, the reasons behind the rules given by the elders and the plants and animals which exist there.
For students reading this book, a comparative study could be made of other Creation stories and the similarities and differences between them could be discussed.
As with the other in this fine series, Sharing our stories, the introductory pages tell a little of the place the stories are set, and where the Paakantji people live, before introducing the storyteller, Murray Butcher.
The vibrant illustrations by the students at Wilcannia Primary School are a visual treat, adding to the story. At the end of the book are several pages with the students' own words, and those of several of the elders. All is followed by the story retold in the Paakantji language, while each page has a few lines at the bottom explaining some of the words used in the text. A most useful addition to the classroom. More about this series can be found at this website.
Fran Knight

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