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'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Ignacio Estrada, via Tomlinson)

Book Review: My Home Broome, by Tamzyne Richardson and Bronwyn Houston

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 7, 2012

I’ve been hosting Indigenous Literature Week on my ANZ LitLovers Blog so it’s appropriate that I review a couple of children’s books by indigenous authors here at LisaHillSchoolStuff.

My Home Broome is an enchanting picture book which celebrates the multicultural community at Broome WA while also paying respect to the traditions and culture of its indigenous people.  Exquisitely illustrated with bright and jazzy colours by Bronwyn Houston from the Nyiyaparli and Yindijibarndi people of the Kimberly, the book features a poem written by ten-year-old Tamzyne Richardson of the Yawaru and Bardi people.  She wrote it when she was recovering from swine flu, and its publication became a community project involving twelve other students who worked with Houston to bring the poem to life. 

Chock full of fascinating snippets about Broome – its pearling industry, its wildlife, its bush food, its history and its enticing tourist attractions – My Home Broome is not just a lovely souvenir book or a book of interest to local children. It would also be a valuable addition to school libraries on the eastern seaboard because the mining boom has made Western Australia pivotal to the Australian economy, and many families relocate there for short periods of time to take up job opportunities. 

But that is not the only reason why this book should be walking off the shelves at bookstores across Australia.  It is the only children’s book I’ve ever come across to explain Aboriginal seasons, and since these are mentioned as topics for study in the new Australian curriculum, My Home Broome is a valuable resource.  It names the six Yawuru Seasons: Man-gala, Marrul, Wirralburu, Barrgana, Wiriburu and Laja, and anyone who’s going salmon fishing in the region can use this book to find out which is which because these seasons are defined not only by subtle distinctions in the climate but also by seasonal availability of flora and fauna.

My favourite page is the last:

I live in a place where kids ride their bikes and meet on the street.
I live in a place I know best.
My home Broome.

Tamzyne tells us on this page that a ‘bubbly’ is Broome-talk for a good mate, that the houses were built with shutters instead of windows to let in cool breezes and that the ones in Chinatown were built of stilts because of the huge tides.  There’s also a delicious recipe for fish soup and rice to try out.

Like all good books about Aboriginal history and culture, the book acknowledges all the contributors (which cheeky photos of the kids who worked with Bronwyn Houston) and includes information about the indigenous origins of the authors. 

Authors: Tamzyne Richardson and Bronwyn Houston
Title: My Home Broome
Publisher: Magabala Books 2012
Review copy courtesy of Magabala Books

Highly recommended.  

Fishpond:My Home Broome or direct from Magabala Books

11 Responses to “Book Review: My Home Broome, by Tamzyne Richardson and Bronwyn Houston”

  1. perkinsy said

    This sounds like the kind of book that I would have bought my children when they were at primary school.

    Northern European seasons make no sense in northern Australia, and the substitutes that Europeans have adopted, wet season and dry season, don’t reflect the other seasonal variations that are a feature of the year. However, I would imagine that every region of Australia has different Aboriginal names for the seasons reflecting different climates and different Aboriginal languages. If this is a topic that can be studied under the new national curriculum, is there someone creating a resource that can help teachers and children in the classroom with this?

    • Lisa Hill said

      Hi Yvonne, I see you have discovered me in my Other Life!
      Yes, absolutely right about the seasons, and I think this is why in the National Curriculum they are encouraging students to look at other ways of seeing things. There are a variety of useful resources that are around, for example, I have a fabulous one at school that provides Aboriginal names for the planets (I can’t remember its name offhand). It may have information about the seasons, I haven’t looked for that information yet. But even if it has, it’s a reference book for adults, whereas this little book is the sort of book that is perfect for reading to children and for them to read themselves.
      I don’t think we can be fastidious about teaching the right season names for the area we live in. So much traditional lore has been lost there are many places where this knowledge isn’t available anyway. What’s important is to teach the concepts that prior to European settlement Aborigines had defined the seasons, named the planets and so on, and that there were different names in different languages for these things just as there are in other countries and cultures.
      Ultimately, however, the more we pay respect to Aboriginal history and culture, the more resources will become available. My collection of legends and stories had school has trebled in size in the five years I’ve been running the library because increasingly both indigenous and mainstream publishers are producing terrific books that are authentic, respectful and good to read.

      • perkinsy said

        Great to hear that there are good resources out there for school students. My children went to a primary school which was very poorly endowed with such resources (nearly 10 years ago). I made sure that I had good books at home with Aboriginal stories written for children. I hope that all school librarians are are giving the attention to this that you are, and that they are adequately funded to do so.

        • Lisa Hill said

          Funded? ha ha!
          Thank goodness for the Lisa Hill Retirement Fund which buys most of the books we can’t scrounge from anywhere else!

          • perkinsy said

            Yes I mentioned that because I thought funding was still an issue! The school library that I was talking about with the poor collection was supplemented by badly written giveaways from book clubs. I ended up buying books to donate to that library. I think it is very important that children read well written books that reflect the diversity of people in the world.

            I’ve just deleted the rest of my rant on this topic – won’t bore you with what you already know!

            • Lisa Hill said

              If I thought ranting would do any good, I’d form a ranters club and you could be President. But governments are not going to do anything about primary libraries unless *parents* care about it enough to make a fuss, and they don’t and they won’t. Sport (not PE, fitness or nutrition) is all that matters *sigh*.

            • perkinsy said

              And school uniforms!!! Gotta laugh! :-)

  2. […] My Home Broome, by Tamzyne Richardson and Bronwyn Houston (Lisa, LisaHillSchoolStuff) […]

  3. Broome has its own importance in Australia’s west region, in spite of being a small town and situated very far from main cities. It provides all facilities and offers a very exciting adventure experience at nearby locations.

  4. […] can find some of her other books at Fishpond, including My Home Broome reviewed here a little while […]

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