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Archive for the ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures’ Category

Book Review: Fog a Dox by Bruce Pascoe

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 7, 2012


Fog a Dox is another addition to the reviews of children’s books which I’m contributing to Indigenous Literature Week that I’ve been hosting on my ANZ LitLovers Blog.

Bruce Pascoe, of Bunerong-Tasmanian heritage, is an award-winning indigenous author, editor and compiler of anthologies. (I have a copy of his adult novel Earth on my TBR and will be reading it soon.) In addition to writing a number of novels and non-fiction books for adults, he has also published a Wathaurong dictionary to support the retrieval and teaching of the Wathaurong language in south-western Victoria. His other children’s novel, The Chainsaw File, was released in 2011.

A chapter book suitable for 10-14 year old readers, Fog a Dox tells the story of Albert Cutts, a tree-feller who despite the disapproval of others keeps a ‘dox’: a fox cub raised by a Albert’s dingo Brim.  Albert lives a solitary life as a bushman until he has an accident which changes everything …

The publisher’s blurb says that his gentle story-telling style is reminiscent of Alan (I Can Jump Puddles) Marshall but Pascoe has a dry humour all his own.  Brim, the dog, does ‘what dogs are very good at: scratching’ because there is

Nothing like a good scratch, followed by a little sniff of the air, a glance at Albert, and then a little dog-think, which never took very long; food always looms too large in their mind and blots out anything but the thought of a bone buried near the woodheap – or was it under the verandah, or the apple tree? Oh well, I forget where, I’ll have to check them all.

Albert would sometimes catch Brim as one of her thoughts evaporated under the dominant influence of bone memories and call out to her, ‘Lose concentration again, darlin’? It happens my furry princess, even to the best of brains.  One minute we’re working out how many eight-bee-one planks in a sixty-foot log and next minute we’re thinking of rabbit stew.  It happens, ol’ darlin’, and that’s a fact.

But what Albert didn’t know was that Brim had been teaching herself to count. (p10-11) 

And because Brim can count she knows when Albert produces three little motherless fox cubs for her to mother along with her own pups, that this is ‘lotsa foxes’ and she is not best pleased. But a dog that loves and trusts its master will do a lot to please:

That’s another one, Brim’s eyes signalled alarm, that’s … lotsa foxes.
But the foxes just suckled ferociously while Albert squatted down beside Brim and reassured her with a calming hand repeatedly following the curve of her brow to the base of her neck, strong, sure strokes pressing calm and acceptance into her heart.  If Albert thought it was all right for a bitch to suckle a fox, lotsa foxes, then it must be all right.  Why, even Rome was built by human babies suckled by a wolf.  Dogs didn’t learn much history but paid particular attention to the bits where dogs and wolves were involved.
(p30)  

The cub that stays with Albert after weaning turns out to be a little miracle that changes a lot of lives.  

Cranky Dave performs a kind of Boo Radley role in the plot, but all the characters – despite their flaws – have that honest bush quirkiness that Aussies love to admire.  The elements of indigenous cultural knowledge and awareness are lightly handled but respectful, and readers who love animals will be enchanted by this book.  It would make an exciting film with a heart-warming ending, and is a good one for reading aloud and discussing with a class too.

 Like all good books about Aboriginal history and culture, the book acknowledges the Aboriginal heritage of the author and locates his country. 

Highly recommended.  

Author: Bruce Pascoe
Title: Fog a Dox
Publisher: Magabala Books, 2012
ISBN: 9781921248559
Review copy courtesy of Magabala Books

Availability (from August 2012):
Fishpond:Fog A Dox or direct from Magabala Books

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Australian Children's Literature, Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews, Indigenous Teaching Resources, Recommended books, School Library stuff | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

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
ISBN:9781921248467
Review copy courtesy of Magabala Books

Highly recommended.  

Availability:
Fishpond:My Home Broome or direct from Magabala Books

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Australian Children's Literature, Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews, Indigenous Teaching Resources, Recommended books, School Library stuff | Tagged: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Book review: Meerreeng-an: Here is My Country, edited by Chris Keeler and Vicki Couzens

Posted by Lisa Hill on November 23, 2011


Most of the stuff that lands in my pigeonhole at work is either administrivia or wasteful paper catalogues for the library, but every now and again there’s a bit of treasure.

So it is with Meerreeng-an: Here is My Country, The Story of Aboriginal Victoria Told Through Art.  It is stunningly gorgeous and every school in Victoria has been lucky enough to receive one.

The Story Cycle is arranged in nine themes arranged to explain central cultural concepts.  There are stories and artworks showcasing

  • Koorie Creation myths;
  • the transmission of culture and law;
  • ceremonies, music and dance;
  • cloaks, clothing and jewellery, and
  • land management, foods, fishing, hunting, weapons and tools

The experience of invasion and conflict is also explored, and resilience is celebrated in the sections about culture and identity, country and kin.

The book has numerous examples of artworks matched with stories which explain Aboriginal culture and beliefs to non-indigenous Australians like me, but for copyright reaseons I’m not able to share the artwork here.  However you can see some of it at Culture Victoria and there is also a video that shows how a kangaroo tooth necklace was made.  Click these links to get an idea of the contents:

This is a fabulous resource for schools, (and invaluable for the Aboriginal Culture and History Cross-Curriculum Priority in the new Australian Curriculum, but it’s also essential reading for anyone interested in Aboriginal art and culture.

Cross-posted at ANZ LitLovers.

© Lisa Hill

Title: MEERREENG-AN HERE IS MY COUNTRY: The Story of Aboriginal Victoria Told Through Art
Edited by Chris Keeler and Vicki Couzens
Publisher: Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne, 2010
ISBN 978-0-9807863-0-9 (Paperback) ISBN 978-0-9807863-1-6 (Hardback); 256 pp, full colour

You can buy it from the Koorie Heritage Trust RRP $49.95 soft cover; $79.95 hardback

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Australian Curriculum, Australian History, Book Reviews | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Book review: Meerreeng-an: Here is My Country, edited by Chris Keeler and Vicki Couzens

Dare to Lead PD at Dandy South Ps

Posted by Lisa Hill on April 22, 2010


Today I attended a professional development activity called Dare to Lead, presented by Rob Miller at Dandenong South PS.  It’s an initiative  set up by Principals Australia aimed at improving the teaching of Aboriginal history and culture.  They run PD such as conferences and send out regular newsletters about resources and so on. Membership is free and you can sign up online. I attended to find out more to support the implementation of the Wannik Strategy at our school.

Rob stressed the importance of knowing the children you work with: you need to ask where they’re from, whose mob they belong to.  He also said that it’s important to have a go, even if you don’t know much about a topic, it’s better to try than do nothing.  But when you can, personalise the curriculum so that it’s Victorian, and even better, so that it’s local. 

There was a spirited discussion about whether to teach ‘units’ about Aboriginal history, culture and issues, but Rob agreed that including Aboriginal perspectives across the curriculum (as we are at MPPS) was a better way to do it.    The APAC site (from Western Australia – there isn’t one for Victoria) – has concept maps which show how Aboriginal perspectives can be infused with ideas about Aboriginal history, culture and issues, and there are other resources such as lesson plans too (though of course not all of these are transferable to other states and you need to assess their appropriateness).

If you interested in the work we’ve done at Mossgiel Park, visit the Aboriginal Perspectives page on this blog.

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New Aboriginal Perspectives Resources

Posted by Lisa Hill on October 8, 2008


Even if you have an RSS feed for LisaHillSchoolStuff, you won’t be notified of changes to the separate Aboriginal Resources Page on this site – so if you are interested in adding Aboriginal Perspectives to your curriculum you will need to check the page from time to time. (Just click on the menu at the top of the page.)

This year we have been funded by AGQTP to re-design our integrated units to include Aboriginal perspectives.  There are now three charts shows how our units can be enriched: VELS Level 1 Minibeasts, Level 2 Food and Level 4 Space. We’re still working on a Level 3 unit…

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Australian History, Indigenous Teaching Resources, Learning and teaching | Tagged: , | Comments Off on New Aboriginal Perspectives Resources

HTAA Conference: Keynote speaker, Prof Henry Reynolds

Posted by Lisa Hill on October 5, 2008


Day One began with Professor Henry Reynolds as Keynote Speaker, and he chose to address the themes of Aboriginal history, Australia’s history of involvement in international wars, and the complexities and contradictions inherent in these themes. As one might expect from the historian who has done more to bring Australia’s Aboriginal history into the spotlight than any other, he was keen to address the three sensitive points in this history: frontier violence, the Stolen Generations, and the Mabo/Wik decisions which rewrote our land laws in 1992 and 1996 respectively. He revisited the ‘history wars’ briefly, and reminded us that the official history written for incoming migrants once included references to these matters, and now does not. (See the full story about this in The Monthly).
He then went on to discuss the militarisation of Australian history during the Howard years. He alluded to new and extensive funding for more and more commemorations, memorials, student pilgramages to Anzac sites, and concern about the bodies of the dead soldiers, bordering on the obsessive in Vietnam. He also noted that the funding and extent of materials from the Department of Veterans Affairs was extraordinary, and – given the non-involvement of government in producing free curriculum resources in other areas – I agree! We have shelves and shelves of stuff from the DVA, most of it unused, because it isn’t appropriate for primary schools, and what makes me really cross is that these materials are exemplary – why can’t the wonderful people who develop them make similarly enticing resources for teaching about the Gold Rush, Federation, Settlement and so on? Why, asked Professor Reynolds, does every soldier have a well-tended grave, and our C19th pioneers do not?
We can’t have it both ways, he says. If we define war as integral to the birth of our nation, then how can we ignore frontier violence? If we believe that we should never forget the Holocaust and the ANZAC experience, why do we tell Aborigines to ‘get over it’? If we use public funding for war memorials, should we do the same for both black and white victims of frontier violence? And if dead bodies of soldiers are so important, how can we say to Aborigines that they should not worry about the treatment of Aboriginal remains? Shouldn’t we search for the Coniston Massacre bodies and bury them with a memorial too?
These are all very challenging issues for us to face, and there was spirited debate afterwards.

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