Review Blog

Jun 06 2018

Bush and beyond: Stories from Country by Tjalaminu Mia, Jessica Lister, Jaylon Tucker and Cheryl Kickett-Tucker

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Fremantle Press, 2018. ISBN 9781925591132
Recommended. This collection of four stories is from the Waarda series of Indigenous Stories and focuses on the importance of spending time with Grandparents. The collection is perfect for primary schools looking for books that support the teaching of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and culture.
The first and second story in this collection 'Bush Secrets' and 'Yippee! Summer Holidays' feature a brother and sister duo Debbie and Billy. The children are looking forward to Dada Keen (their Grandfather) coming to stay from the city. Their life is simple and fun - they live in a small bush community. Debbie describes the stories her Dada Keen and their walks together. What I loved most about this is the way in which the authors teachers the reader about the Noongar Tribes of Western Australia, even incorporating their language. Dada Keen teaches Debbie and Billy about their heritage in a simplistic but charming style. My only criticism is Debbie's constant references to having and keeping secrets, which contrasted with what I am currently teaching my class in their Child Protection Curriculum lessons.
The third and fourth stories used even more of the Noongar language and taught the reader some of the features of the Swan River, Wheatbelt, Moora and north-east WA goldfields. All regions from the Katanning area in WA originally inhabited by the Noongar people. Both heavily narrative, one was about a little boy camping with his family and the other was about Thuri (grandfather) taking his grandsons on a bushwalk. The simple narration of what the flora and fauna they come across, and the features of the land, was very easy to read.
The collaborative authors belong to Indigenous groups from Western Australia and have written teaching notes to accompany this as well as all three books in the series. There are two more collections Cyclones and Shadows and Eagle, Crow and Emu which would greatly add to the AITSI resources in any Australian school library. Another pleasant aspect of these stories was that they are not Dreaming Stories but narratives, and would be great as read-aloud chapter books that celebrate culture and heritage of AITSI students during events such as National Reconciliation Week.
Clare Thompson

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