Alfie’s Big Wish is a sequel to Alfie’s Search for Destiny which I reviewed on this blog last year. It’s another title from Magabala Books, the indigenous not-for-profit publishing company based in Broome, Western Australia, and again the story is written in rhythmic rhyming couplets.
This time Alfie is in search of a friend. This is a common theme in books for young children, and increasingly as families become more mobile and divorce is more common, the theme features a treasured friend moving away, leaving the other child bereft.
…his mates had moved on with their mum and their dad,
leaving him lonely, leaving him sad.
The other kids who are still around are older than he is and the things he used to do with his friends are suddenly no fun anymore. Appropriately in books for this age group the problem is reassuringly resolved when Alfie makes a wish upon a star and a little friend emerges from the bushes the next morning.
While this is a sweet little book for pre-school children, it has value for older students too. As I explained in my previous review, David Hardy is an indigenous freelance artist descended from the Barkindji people of Brewarrina, NSW. He worked for eight years with Walt Disney Studios in feature film animation, and has now come home to live in Sydney. Hardy’s success in a high-profile international arena makes him a great role model for students of any background, but especially for indigenous students who are so often subjected to negative stereotypes of their people.
While he was with Disney, Hardy worked on The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata, Tarzan II, Lilo and Stitch2 and Return to Neverland. He was also ‘clean-up animation director’ in Manila, Philippines, where he worked on The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning and The Fox and the Hound 2. Older students will immediately identify the classic Disney facial expressions and gestures in the Alfie series of illustrations, while also identifying the symbols of indigenous identity such as the red and ochre head and arm bands; the boomerang; the face painting and the dancing. The clever way that Hardy has adapted his ‘Disney’ style for the indigenous Australian context provides the opportunity to talk about career possibilities in animation and other forms of digital art. I also use it to encourage students not to slavishly copy the pop art and Manga that they come across, but to adapt it and make it their own.
Author: David Hardy
Title: Alfie’s Big Wish
Publisher: Magabala Books, 2014
Source: Review copy courtesy of Magabala Books