Review Blog

Jul 14 2014

Silly birds written and illustrated by Gregg Dreise

cover image

Magabala Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922142993.
(Age: 5-7) Picture book. Moral tale. Aboriginal themes. Birds. The story of an animal which defies its elders is one that permeates through all cultures, and here is presented with an Aboriginal base, as the eagle, a magnificent bird, wastes its time defying its elders and consorting with the turkeys on the ground.
Maliyan the eagle has loving parents, and they make sure that he listens to what they tell him. He doesn't want to be a wombah thigaraa, a silly bird. But then he meets Wagun, a silly bird, and together the pair talk all the time, not listening to their elders. Wagun speaks only of his own accomplishments. Maliyan's parents despair, their son is not taking care of their environment and eating the food meant for all. They tell him how they feel and he begins to feel badly about what he has done. He realsies that his abilities are not in talking like the turkey, but watching and listening, and he flies into the sky to do just that, while the turkey stays on the ground. To this day the eagle remains in the sky ever watchful, while the turkey remains scratching on the ground having lost the ability to fly.
This is a wonderful tale of respecting the elders, of making the most of your own abilities, of not being swayed by the easy path, of not being taken in by your peers.
The story reflects the saying 'its hard to soar like an eagle when you are surrounded by turkeys', often heard from Gregg's Uncle Reg Knox as well as the elders in his community in South West Queensland where the Kamilaroi people live. A lovely retelling of an old story which could be used in a class where cautionary tales are under discussion, or Aboriginal stories being read.
Fran Knight.

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