‘Grounded in Truth’: Young Dark Emu

It was Reconciliation Week last week in Australia and this year’s theme was ‘grounded in truth’. It highlighted Aboriginal and Torres Train Islander peoples’ call for a process of truth-telling about Australia’s colonial history as a way of healing historical wounds. Because let’s face it, someone has to – there’s a leadership void where the political classes are concerned (apart from in Victoria, of course).

While this country remains in deep denial about the trauma white settlers visited on this continent (just change Australia Day goddammit!!), I figure one small, small way that I can contribute to reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous Australians is to educate myself better about the wrongs of the past and to understand their impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I shake my head whenever I reflect that I never learned anything about this trauma during my decades of formal Australian education.

Young Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe is the perfect entry point for this. By reexamining journals and drawings from early Australian settlers and explorers, Bruce Pascoe paints a radically different picture of Aboriginal people and their culture.

‘Very good and very colourful’: Monster Party

Today is Indigenous Literacy Day – a national celebration of Indigenous culture, stories, language and literacy. It’s also the day that The Indigenous Literacy Fund is especially encouraging the rest of Australia to raise funds and advocate for more equal access to literacy resources for remote communities. It kicks off a month of fundraising to literally fill the bookshelves of children in remote communities who otherwise have little access to books. There’s a number of different ways you can do your bit, so head over to their website to learn more.

Today is also the day that Master Seven and I read Monster Party, a book illustrated by kids from the Rawa Community School situated in the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia. This is a gorgeous book – the pages are really vibrant and the illustrations are so beautifully textured they seem almost three-dimensional. The authors and students have produced a delightful book.

Read on to see my penetrating questions, and Master Seven’s incisive answers about the fabulous book Monster Party.

‘The people who drew the pictures are very good drawers’, pronounces Master Six

It’s Master Six’s birthday today (with fever-pitched excitement in this household!). Master Seven will turn into Master Eight in a few weeks time. It’s irrefutable; they’re growing up.

Notwithstanding their rapid ageing, as well as stiff competition from the likes of Captain Underpants and the Storey Treehouse series, both boys still love reading picture books. Although, it’s not guaranteed that every picture book will capture their imagination as might’ve been the case even a year ago.  With this in mind, we recently tested the waters with Mrs White and the Red Desert and On the Way to Nana’s House.

Master Six and Master Nearly-Eight give their considered opinions on these two books: their covers, storylines, illustrations, and as well as delivering an ultimate verdict on both books.

Resistance and Remembrance: Us Women, Our Ways, Our World

I had always thought, erroneously it turns out, that protests against Australia Day were a relatively new phenomenon. Yet since 1938 protesters have marched against the 25th of January being an Australian national holiday because it ‘celebrates’ Europeans landing on this continent. Known as the Day of Mourning, this 1930s protest was one of the first major civil rights gatherings in the world.

The genesis of NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week lies in the Day of Mourning, but unlike this earlier day of commiseration, NAIDOC week now is a series of celebratory events. It’s this approach – one of recognition and remembrance, as well as resistance – that Us Women, Our Ways, Our World takes to investigating the lived experience of Aboriginal women, through fourteen different pieces of writing. It seems fitting to take a closer look at this book during NAIDOC week.