Budinge and the Min Min lights by Uncle Joe Kirk with Greer Casey and Sandi Harrold
Ill. by Sandi Harrold. Scholastic, 2015. ISBN 9781743628577
(Age: Preschool and primary) Recommended. Aboriginal themes. Min Min lights. The Min Min lights is a recurring theme in many stories and tales told of the Outback and is sometimes seen as a harbinger of something sinister in Aboriginal culture. In this one, Budinge fishes at the waterhole each evening, but one night is frightened by a light he sees in the trees. His grandmother has told him that if he did not behave then the light would take him away.
He runs from the light, but as he runs the light divides into two, then it grows even bigger. He runs through the bush, becoming more scared even hiding behind some of the bushes. He runs for home, runs up the verandah and through the door, gets under the mosquito net and pulls the blankets up around his chin. And then he finds what has been following him. This is a delightful story of an Aboriginal boy learning about his environment and the rules which are part of his growing up. We learn about his fishing at the waterhole, the bush that surrounds him, the mosquito net he uses at night, the house in which he and his grandmother live. But most of all we learn about the story of the Min Min light, how it is used as a cautionary tale by Aboriginal people and classes will be able to learn more about this light using the Internet.
The illustrations, presented in a naive style, suit the innocence of the lad scurrying through the bush at night to escape his perceived fate. The strong colours crowd in on him, the bright green of the bushes frame his face, the multi colours of the Min Min light stand out against the duller colours of the background, and the blanket makes a welcome soothing colour for the boy when he reaches the safety of his bedroom.
It is wonderful to see a new range of Aboriginal stories for kids to read, whether they be at home, in a library or in class. All Australian children will learn more about the culture that has been here for thousands of years, students will increase their awareness of other stories they have not heard, and stories such as this can be included in the curriculum for all to share. This is the second story by Uncle Joe Kirk of the Wallu Wakku people in Brisbane, with Karara, the story of the father emu published by Scholastic in 2014.