Stories for Simon by Lisa Miranda Sarzin and Lauren Briggs
Random House Australia Children's, 2015. ISBN 9780857987440
(Age: All) Highly recommended. 'We all stand on sacred ground: Learn, respect and celebrate' - NAIDOC theme 2015
Kevin Rudd's Apology to the Stolen Generations in February 2008 was momentous for all Australians - both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. And it is critically important that we teach our children the significance of this in order to nurture the healing in a meaningful way and to promote a positive future for all our people.
This beautifully written and illustrated book is destined to be a key title in this educative process for younger children as the collaborators (and long-time friends) transform the huge issues surrounding this acknowledgement of a dark time in our nation's history into a story that even small children can readily grasp.
Simon collects many beautiful things such as shells and feathers and fossils. When he is sent a boomerang as a gift to start a new collection, he immediately takes it to school to show everyone. The old newspaper in which it is wrapped becomes the focus of many questions as the teacher spots these words 'For the pain, suffering and hurt, we say SORRY'. After the class discussion about this tragic history, Simon's thoughts and dreams reflect his new knowledge. A dream of raining 'sorry' stones becomes a reality and the beginning of a new friendship, a new 'collection' of special stories and a new appreciation of First Australians' past.
Sarzin and Briggs were mentored throughout the creative process by Indigenous Elder Vic Simms, ensuring that both text and illustrations were sensitively handled with all due respect. He says 'I believe this book will generate interest, understanding and reconciliation for the future, starting with the minds of children and by telling a story that is seen through their innocent eyes.'
Suzy Wilson, founder of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, states 'This book is a welcome and important addition to school libraries and bookshelves everywhere. It will provoke important conversations between parents and children, in classrooms and throughout the community'.
Highly recommended for all readers, particularly younger primary students, this is a must have for your collection to continue developing cross-cultural understandings.