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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: Meet Mary MacKillop, by Sally Murphy and Sonia Martinez

Posted by Lisa Hill on April 13, 2013

Meet Mary MackillopI’ve always rather liked the Catholic idea of sainthood.  Not because I believe in miracles or any of the spiritual concepts associated with it, but because I like the idea of acknowledging people just for being good.  Society rewards soldiering with military medals, and most countries have some sort of honours system for high achievers. There are bravery awards, and educational systems usually have some kind of award system for excellence in a variety of fields.  But (as far as I know) only the Catholics confer sainthood on people for being good, and so it’s rather nice that Australia has got its very own saint at last.

I teach in a secular school and so this is the approach that I would take in the matter of the canonisation of Mary MacKillop.  She was a pioneer of education for all children rich and poor, and she was an inspiring female role model who set up her own school and founded her own order of nuns.  This kind of leadership was not common for women in the 19th century and so her story in Meet Mary MacKillop helps to provide gender balance when teaching children about significant people in Australian history.

Teachers who do even a rudimentary bit of research at Saint Mary MacKillop and at Wikipedia will soon see that Mary MacKillop was a spirited woman with a talent for controversy.  As the timeline in the back of this book shows, she was excommunicated and even when this was rescinded and she had the Pope’s blessing for her new Order of Nuns, there was conflict with her superiors in Queensland.  Wisely, Sally Murphy has skipped over all these complicated dramas, and told the simple story of MacKillop’s first foray into teaching in Penola South Australia in a beautiful hardback picture book.  The full-colour illustrations by Sonia Martinez contribute to showing the pioneer lifestyle and the text focusses on MacKillop’s initiative, determination and devotion to her faith.

Meet Mary MacKillop is one of a series being produced by Random House to resource the National History Curriculum.

You can find out more about Mary MacKillop at Saint Mary MacKillop and at Wikipedia.

Author: Sally Murphy
Illustrator: Sonia Martinez
Title: Meet Mary MacKillop
Publisher: Random House, May 1st, 2013
ISBN: 9781742757216

Review copy courtesy of Random House.


Fishpond: Meet Mary Mackillop

2 Responses to “Book review: Meet Mary MacKillop, by Sally Murphy and Sonia Martinez”

  1. […] not about a particular person.  (The other one in this series that I’ve reviewed was Meet Mary McKillop)  but we’ve also got Meet Ned Kelly and due for release soon is my own personal hero, Meet […]

  2. […] Meet Mary Mackillop;  […]

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