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Archive for the ‘Recommended books’ Category

Book Review: My Nanna is a Ninja, by Damon Young

Posted by Lisa Hill on February 26, 2014


My Nanna is a Ninja
I think I may have mentioned before that I’m writing up some poetry units for the Australian Curriculum?  I am beginning to doubt that they will ever be finished, because as fast as I finalise a lesson on the units I’ve done, somebody produces another gorgeous book and of course I have to use it, and so my unit is out of date five minutes after I’ve planned it.

So it is with this fabulous book from Damon Young: My Nanna is a Ninja is hilarious – I can’t wait to use it with my Year 4 poetry class.

Some nannas dress in blue while they bake sweet apple pies.
Some nannas dress in red as they fly about the skies.
Some nannas dress in pink while they jog around the track.
But my nanna is a ninja so she dresses up in black.

(You can download the sample pages that these couplets come from on the UQP site so that you can see the wonderful illustrations by Peter Carnavas.  There are teachers’ notes there too. )

These four nannas defy stereotypes: they are young, or young-at-heart, they are all active and they all express their love for their grandchildren in different ways. The illustrations work with the text to show us a grandma ballooning, riding on wild horses, and otherwise living life to the full.  The ninja grandma sneaks out for midnight feasts, and uses a ninja sword as a satay stick for eating watermelon.

I’m going to use this book to explore rhythm and rhyme, but I don’t think we’ll try to emulate it in our own poems.  Too hard!  We’ll talk about other forms of poetry that we could use to write about grandmothers so that we focus on meaning.  We could try acrostics, maybe haiku, or free verse: the important thing will be to capture the mood of individuality that modern grandmas have, and the special relationship that they have with their grandchildren.

Sometimes, the creativity of Australian picture book authors and illustrators makes a teacher-librarian’s job a real delight …

Author: Damon Young
Title: My Nanna is a Ninja
Illustrated by Peter Carnavas
Publisher: UQP (University of Queensland Press), 2014
ISBN: 9780702250095
Source: Review copy courtesy of UQP.

Availability

Fishpond: My Nanna Is A Ninja
Or direct from UQP.

Posted in Australian Children's Literature, Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews, Poetry, Recommended books, School Library stuff | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Kulurdu Marni Ngathaitya! A Kaurna Learner’s Guide, by Rob Amery and Jane Simpson

Posted by Lisa Hill on January 17, 2014


Kulurdu Marni NgathaityaNaa marni?

That’s a Kaurna translation of a contemporary greeting now used in Pitjantjatjara and other Aboriginal languages, and it’s my introduction to learning the Kaurna language of the Adelaide Plains in South Australia.

It’s long been a concern of mine that although I can fudge my way around in Europe with a smattering of languages, I don’t even know how to say thank you in any of the indigenous languages of my own country. There is no better way to understand another’s culture than to learn a bit of their language, and that is why I am so delighted that Wakefield Press has sent me this book.

It is a beautiful, enticing, brightly-coloured book on glossy paper with lots of illustrations to complement the lessons, but it begins in a way that no other ‘teach yourself a language’ text does. In the preface there are 23 profiles of the people who contributed to this book, making the salient point that like nearly all Aboriginal languages the Kaurna language has been put at risk by a combination of factors arising from the colonisation of the continent by the British. In different ways and coming from different starting points, these profiles confirm what I already knew from talking to award-winning indigenous author Kim Scott, that the resurrection of these languages is difficult when so many indigenous Australians – whose birthright these languages are – were severed from their families, their culture and their language under Stolen Generation policies. That is why a book like this is so important.

Languages have all kinds of embedded cultural codes: Kaurna is a bit like Indonesian in that in some contexts what is said changes according to how many people are being spoken to, and how. For example, in Indonesian, unlike in English, the word ‘we’ can be inclusive of the people being addressed (kita), and exclusive of them (kami). In Kaurna the traditional ‘where are you going?’ greeting varies according to whether you are speaking to one person, two, or more than two. This distinction bothered me in choosing the contemporary greeting Naa marni? because I am not sure of the etiquette for addressing the readers of blogs! I assume that most people are reading this as individuals, but I expect that it will be read in toto by many, certainly more than two. In the end I went with more than two, but I am not confident that I am correct. It’s always, always better to learn a language from a native speaker who can help out with thorny issues like this …

My next stumble came with the word ‘thank you’. The text explains that Aboriginal languages didn’t have words for thanking people because in pre-colonial times people did things for others either because they were obliged to under kinship rules or because they wanted to. Indigenous Australians don’t expect to be thanked; what is more likely is an expression of affection such as Ngaityo yungandalya (My brother!) or Ngaityu yakanantalya (My sister!) Ngaityalya (My dear!) can be used for anyone regardless of age, gender or relationship to the speaker. This last form is an example of the way indigenous languages have adapted to contemporary needs. The suffix -alya on the end, is explained in a little grammar box on the side of the text: it expresses endearment. How nice to have a language grammar which expresses endearment! The only equivalent I can think of in English is adding -kin/s to the end of a word, as in lambkin, or using it to add to the name of my grandniece, as in Poppykins. I have a feeling that my use of this suffix -kin betrays either my age or my origins!

Look how much I’ve learned simply by exploring how to say ‘hello‘ and ‘thank you’! Even if I never ever get a chance to use this language, this book is invaluable. But I’m going to have a go with these chapters to guide me:

  • Tirntu-irntu Warrarna / useful Introductory Utterances
  • Nari Taakanthi / Names and Naming
  • Warrarna Tirkanthi: Kaurna Warra Tirkanthi / Learning Languages: Learning Kaurna (this section includes pronunciation)

I’m intrigued by the two long sections about Talking about Space and Time, because I already know from teaching indigenous children that their concepts about this are entirely different to ours, and I’m also keen to explore the differences between Talking with Children, and Talking with Elders.

The book is designed for people who are teaching Kaurna and assumes no knowledge of the language or even the culture: apart from the easy-to-understand lessons which are based on a communicative approach there are posters at the back (which can also be ordered from the creators).

The blurb at the back of the book sums it up better than I ever could:

Awakening a sleeping beauty tongue is a remarkable achievement of ethical, aesthetic and utilitarian significance. This textbook is an exquisite contribution to Revivalistics, a new field emerging in the wake of greater concern about intangible heritage, intellectual sovereignty, human wellbeing and social justice.

Professor Ghil’ad Zuckerman, chair of Linguistics and Endangered Languages, University of Adelaide.

Marni padni! (Go well!)

Cross-posted at ANZ LitLovers

Authors: Rob Amery and Jane Simpson
Title: Kulurdu Marni Ngathaitya! A Kaurna Learner’s Guide
Publisher: Wakefield Press, 2013
ISBN: 9781743052341

Availability

Fishpond: Kulurdu Marni Ngathaitya!: A Kaurna Learner’s Guide
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Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Book Reviews, Indigenous Teaching Resources, Recommended books | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

The Spotty Dotty Lady, by Josie Boyle

Posted by Lisa Hill on January 11, 2014


The Spotty Dotty LadyYears ago, one of my son’s favourite books was one about a man who lived in a drab suburban street where there was no sense of community.  I can’t remember its name, but I remember the story well: one day this man took it into his head to decorate in house in a strikingly original way.  Before long the neighbours were all friends, and the street was transformed into a riot of colour.  Well,  The Spotty Dotty Lady is in the same tradition, brought beautifully to life for the 21st century by the stunning artwork of Fern Martins.

The Spotty Dotty lady, who at the beginning of the story has no name, is a lonely woman ‘whose only friends were the pretty flowers in her garden’.  One day she discovers a new plant that has mysteriously arrived in this garden, and she nurtures the bud until it blooms into a spotty dotty flower.  When more flowers bloom, she paints her old weatherboard house with dots, and before long the neighbours are outside wanting her to paint their tea cups.  They christen her with her new name and her loneliness vanishes when she throws a party and the street is filled with music and dance.  The book ends with a wise old owl that must have dropped the seed flying away  over a neighbourhood that is ‘the happiest street in the whole town’.

It is a simple story that celebrates the way that gardens can bring people together. It also encourages young readers to be themselves, and to enjoy odd or eccentric things if they like.

The illustrations are just gorgeous.  The dots, of course, reference Aboriginal dot painting, but the characters are multi-ethnic, and the setting is urban.  I particularly like the realism of the womanly shape of the spotty dotty lady, and I love the retro feel of the canisters and the radio in her kitchen.  I think art teachers would love the inspiration this book offers for decorating all kinds of things – the spotty dotty lady even has spots on her teeth!

Aboriginal Australia Wall Map: LargeLike all good books by indigenous artists and authors, The Spotty Dotty Lady includes information about the indigenous heritage of Josie Boyle and Fern Martins, and I recommend the use of an Aboriginal Australia Wall Map  to locate their country when introducing the book.  (I have mine on permanent display).  This quick and simple act of recognition is a powerful way to remind students of the diversity and longevity of Aboriginal culture and its storytelling heritage, and the cumulative effect of reading stories from all over Australia enriches their pride in our country as preeminent in the field of children’s literature.

About the author and illustrator (from the Magabala website):

Josie Wowolla Boyle is a Wonghi woman who was born in the desert of Western Australia. She is an acclaimed storyteller, singer and artist who has been enchanting children of all ages since the 1980s. Josie performs in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. She has made a number of recordings, worked as an artist in residence and featured on ABC’s 5 Nations’ Dreaming stories. She is also a regular presenter in literature and music festivals across WA. In 2012, Josie published her first children’s book, Bubbay: A Christmas Adventure with Magabala Books. (Click the link to see my review).

Fern Martins is an Ngarabul woman from New South Wales. She launched her career at the age of 19 with a one-woman sculptural exhibition and has developed her career as a sculptor, printmaker and artist. In 1988, together with other young Aboriginal urban artists, Fern started Boomalli, the Sydney Aboriginal Artists Cooperative. She has exhibited at the National Gallery and has lectured at the University of Adelaide.

The Spotty Dotty Lady would be a great book to use as a catalyst for ‘getting to know you’ activities at the start of the year.

Author: Josie Boyle
Title: The Spotty Dotty Lady
Illsutrator: Fern Martins
Publisher: Magabala Books, 2014
ISBN: 9781922142108

Availability

Fishpond: The Spotty Dotty Lady
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Posted in Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews, Indigenous Teaching Resources, Recommended books, School Library stuff | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on The Spotty Dotty Lady, by Josie Boyle

Book review: Hannah’s Night, by Komoko Sakai, translated by Cathy Hirano

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 26, 2013


Hannah's NightHannah’s Night is a simple story about a little girl who wakes up in the middle of the night and explores her home without her family’s knowledge.  Written and illustrated by Japanese author/illustrator Komoko Sakai, it would make a lovely companion piece to Margaret Wild’s The Midnight Gang (2004).   The Midnight Gang

In both these stories, small children discover a world of adventure.  Hannah first tries to wake her sister, and then establishes that her parents are asleep too.  She is accompanied by her cat, Shiro, and she has a small taste of independence when she gives the cat some milk and eats some cherries without asking – and no one tells her off.  She borrows her sisters doll, her music box, and her drawing things, and takes them back to bed to play with.  She looks out of the window but does not venture outside, eventually falling asleep again on her sister’s bed.

Baby Brenda’s midnight gang is more adventurous.  The reader can tell that Brenda often ditches her nappy  and scrambles through the cat door because her friends are all waiting for her.  Her wild adventures in the park include a trip to the stars, but like Hannah, Brenda eventually toddles back to where she belongs and no one is the wiser.

These books appeal to small children, because they love the idea of having secret adventures that their families know nothing about.  Hannah’s Night is simpler and less venturesome, but the illustrations are darker and convey the mild sense of danger that Hannah feels.  Ann James’s illustrations for The Midnight Gang are more whimsical and the children have cute cheeky faces.

I have been thinking for a while of building a shelf collection of picture books from Asian countries to support the cross-curriculum priority Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia, and while all I have at the moment for my ‘Japanese shelf’ are books by Junko Morimoto, Hannah’s Night could be the start of a ‘country study’ of Japanese authors, exploring the sense of restraint, calm and containment that (in my experience with adult fiction and a few picture books) characterises Japanese literature.  I am mulling over ideas for how to approach this concept…

Author: Komoko Sakai
Title: Hannah’s Night
Translated by Cathy Hirano
Publisher: Gecko Press, New Zealand, 2013
Source: Review copy courtesy of Scott Eathorne from Quikmark Media

Availability
Fishpond:
Hannah’s Night
The Midnight Gang (if you are lucky, there might be a second-hand copy there, if not try Brotherhood Books.

Posted in Asia & Australia's Engagement with Asia, Australian Children's Literature, Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews, Recommended books | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Book review: Hannah’s Night, by Komoko Sakai, translated by Cathy Hirano

Book review: Deadly D and Justice Jones, Book 1: Making the Team, by Scott Prince and Dave Hartley

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 25, 2013


Deadly DI’m probably the only person in Australia who’s never heard of the Broncos, much less its star player Scott Prince, but I reckon that makes me the best person in Australia to review his new book, written for children.  Who could be less biased, eh?  Even though I was very proud that my son played representative rugby as a teenager, I know nothing about the game (or indeed any other kind of football).  So, for me, Deadly D and Justice Jones, Book 1: Making the Team has to work as a story.  For my students (who mostly follow soccer) this book will need to have a compelling plot, credible characters that they can relate to, and an engaging style.

Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that it does.  Written specifically to engage active sports-mad boys, Deadly D and Justice Jones in written as a straightforward chronological first-person narrative, related by 11-year-old Dylan Conlan, who has to move from Mt Isa to Brisbane because his mother has a new job.  On his very first day at his new school he encounters the School Bully, Jared Knutz and his thuglike father, terrorising the principal because he’s had the temerity to discipline Jared for throwing rocks at a teacher’s car.  By afternoon, he’s seen him bullying a smaller Kiwi boy, Justice jones.  By page 33 it dawns on the reader, reluctant or otherwise, that young Dylan is no ordinary boy: when angry he explodes out of his clothes like the Incredible Hulk – and he promptly chucks Jared off the jetty and into the water, leaving his gang to scarper as fast as they can.

In the best tradition of superheroes, Dylan has to keep this transformation a secret.  His mother has taught him anger management techniques, but Jared provokes him again when they’re on a school excursion to visit a Broncos’ training day.  And when Dylan explodes onto the ground, the Broncos are impressed, and invite him to join the team! Of course there is a slight problem that Dylan has to get mad in order to morph into Deadly D, but Justice manages to come up with some hilarious ways of achieving it.  So Dylan is able to make amends for losing a game for his team back in Mt Isa, and not only that,  Jared gets his comeuppance too, (though I suspect that he will make a comeback in Book 2).

While not heavy-handed about it, the book also contrasts the Waitangi treaty that is commemorated every year in New Zealand, with the unresolved reconciliation process here in Australia.  (If constitutional recognition is something that you care about too, visit Recognise and find out more.)

A Kalkadoon man from Mt Isa, Scott Prince co-authored Deadly D and Justice Jones – Making the Team with primary school deputy principal Dave Hartley of the Barunggam people from the Darling Downs/Chinchilla region.  They wrote it over four years and then submitted it for a State Library of Queensland’s 2013  black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship.  They didn’t win, but the judges were so impressed that they created the kuril dhagun prize as a one-off, and the deal included publication of the story by indigenous publishing house, Magabala Books.

The book is 122 pages long and includes half-a-dozen B&W drawings by Dave Hartley.  It’s suitable for independent readers, has brief (and funny) ‘deadly notes (a.k.a. a glossary) at the back, author bios, and some information about the black&write! project which aims to foster indigenous writing.

There are teacher notes at Magabala Books.

Availability

Direct from Magabala Books.

Posted in Book Reviews, Indigenous Teaching Resources, Recommended books, School Library stuff | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Book review: Dance Like a Pirate, by Stephanie Owen Reeder

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 25, 2013


Dance Like a PirateThe blurb for this new lift-the-flap book Dance Like a Pirate is says it’s the perfect way to encourage kids to get active and to teach them body parts, but more than that, I think it’s a wonderful stimulus for imaginative play.

Each page has its own theme for dressing up.  The children can be fantasy characters like witches and wizards, fairies, mermaids and mermen or dragons; they can be  dancers, firemen, rock stars, or sailors; and they can be pirates, superheroes, royalty, clowns, or rabbits.   The brightly coloured pictures of children in costume is accompanied by verses in rhyming couplets with a strong, bouncing rhythm, perfect for children to join in:

Let’s leap like a dancer in tutu and tights,
Soaring across the stage like a bird in flight
So stretch your ankles and flex your calves,
Raise your hands and aim for the stars.

Glide and pirouette, slide and twirl,
Head held high, both arms curled.
Twist around and around like a top.
Do you feel dizzy when you stop?

Up, up and away! Let’s leap!
(underneath the flap) How high can you fly?

The body parts vocabulary is highlighted in bright colours, and at the back of the book there are labelled diagrams of a boy and a girl. (But they’ve omitted the label for calves!) No, they haven’t, but it’s printed in orange which makes it a little bit hard to see, see the author’s clarification below.  Sorry, Stephanie!

There are also, at the back of the book, small reproductions of some of the photos and drawings that Inspired the illustrator’s images.  The hopping rabbits, for example, draw on a photo of a mincing male dancer from the Monte Carlo Russian Ballet. Although I suspect that the inclusion of these images might ‘go over the heads’ of the target audience for this book, as one who is interested in art but has no skill at all in creating it, I found it fascinating, to see how the movements of the adult dancers in these images have been transformed.

I think prep Foundation and kindergarten teachers will love this book.  A few props in the dress-up box, and the children will have a great time!

Author and illustrator: Stephanie Owen Reeder
Title: Dance Like a Pirate
Publisher: NLA (National Library of Australia), 2013
ISBN: 9780642277794
Source: Review copy courtesy of the NLA

Availability

Fishpond:  Dance Like a Pirate
Book Depository: Dance Like a Pirate
Or direct from the NLA

Posted in Book Reviews, Fun stuff, Learning and teaching, Poetry, Recommended books, School Library stuff | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Book review: Xander’s Panda Party, by Linda Sue Park

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 25, 2013


Xander's Panda PartyDid you see those gorgeous 14 panda cubs in the news this week?  By coincidence, I have a lovely new book starring pandas which has been under the publisher’s embargo – until today!

Newbery medal winner Linda Sue Park has written a  delightful rhyming story about a cute little panda called Xander who wants to throw a party, and since he is the only panda in the zoo, he decides to ask all the other bears.  He sends an invitation to the black bear, the brown bear, the two polar bears, and the grizzly.  But when the guest list extends to the koala, she objects – because as every Aussie school kid knows, koalas are not bears, they are marsupials.

From her tree, Koala uttered, ‘Xander, I am not a bear.’
Xander didn’t understand her.  ‘Koala Bear, you’re not a bear?’ He stared at her in consternation.
‘Sorry for the complication.  I know I’m called Koala Bear, but I am not a bear, I swear.  I am a marsupial.  Marsupials – we’re rather rare. Will I not be welcome there?’

Xander nibbles away on some bamboo and comes up with a solution:

‘Fur or hair or hide can come.  All the mammals, every one!’

But then of course there are other taxonomies excluded, and in the end Xander invites all creatures – no matter what they are, and he is rewarded by the arrival of a dear little panda called Zhu.

It’s a lovely story, the full-colour illustrations by Matt Phelan are delightful, and it’s a perfect fit for primary teachers introducing Biological Science at Year 3:

Living things can be grouped on the basis of observable features and can be distinguished from non-living things (ACSSU044)

There is also a loose association with the cross-curriculum priority Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia because the book can be a launchpad for finding out more about China and its wildlife.

Pandas are so adorable, I can’t resist sharing this enchanting video from the San Diego zoo.

Author: Linda Sue Park
Title: Xander’s Panda Party
Illustrated by Matt Phelan
Publisher: UQP (University of Queensland Press), 2013
ISBN: 9780702249983 (hbk).
Source: Review copy courtesy of UQP

Availability

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Book Review: What’s Dad Doing? by Susan Hall

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 10, 2013


My students love lift-the-flap books, and I know they are going to love this one.  What’s Dad Doing? is a charming little book that subverts stereotypes very nicely…

Pat the Possum and his little mate Wesley Wombat go looking for dad in all sorts of places.  They check out the shed, they wonder if he’s mowing the lawn, they look to see if he’s reading the newspaper.

But no, he’s not doing any of these things:  when the flap is lifted, he’s feeding the baby, doing the dishes, cooking dinner and helping mum to hang out the washing.  That’s because ringtail possum parents share the parenting …

Which makes a ringtail possum a very good role model for people parents, eh?

This is an excellent little book for those Me and My Family units that all schools do with their Preps Foundation classes, and the facts section at the back makes it a handy addition to a school library’s collection about Australian animals.

The simple repetitive text makes it ideal for beginning readers, and the witty illustrations by Cheryl Westenberg with the pudgy little wombat in a superhero suit are just gorgeous.  The book is printed on robust card so it looks as if it will stand up to wear and tear for a while.

What's Dad Doing? Author: Susan Hall
Title: What’s Dad Doing?
Illustrations by Cheryl Westenberg
Publisher: National Library of Australia, 2013
ISBN: 9780642277916
Source: Review copy courtesy of the NLA

Availability

Fishpond: What’s Dad Doing?
Or direct from the NLA Bookshop

Posted in Australian Children's Literature, Book Reviews, Recommended books, School Library stuff | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Book review: Eco Warriors to the Rescue, by Tania McCartney

Posted by Lisa Hill on August 11, 2013


Eco Warriors to the RescueEco Warriors to the Rescue is a jazzy, up-beat picture book with a series of simple messages about caring for the environment.  There’s nothing particularly new in it, but it’s presented in an interesting way.

Primarily visual, the messages ask children

  • not to litter,
  • to tread carefully,
  • to avoid picking native flowers,
  • to keep waterways clean
  • to protect native animals from introduced animals
  • care for native animals and insects
  • plant native trees and shrubs
  • plan development wisely (the example is a cubby house, not a condo !)
  • prevent bushfires
  • reduce pollution.

Bright photos in cheerful colours are superimposed on botanical illustrations identified in end notes at the end of the book.  There’s also a page of flower facts at the back of the book, along with a map of Australia showing state floral emblems, and a native birth plants page.

Eco Warriors to the Rescue would be a useful addition to school libraries, and suitable for units of work about the environment, and the Australian Curriculum Priority Sustainability.

The book mentions colouring-in pages on the Australian National Botanic Gardens website, but it doesn’t give the URL.  Having checked the site out, it doesn’t look very appealing to children.  I would have liked to see some interactive activities, and the site needs to be more kid-friendly, more colourful, and easier to navigate.

Author: Tania McCartney
Title: Eco Warriors to the Rescue
Publisher: National Library of Australia, 2013
ISBN: 9780642277800
Source: review copy courtesy of the NLA.

Availability

Fishpond: Eco Warriors to the Rescue!
Or direct from the National Library of Australia

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Book Review: The Day My Father Became a Bush, by Joke van Leeuwen, translated by Bill Nagelkerke

Posted by Lisa Hill on August 10, 2013


The Day My Father Became a Bush This is a remarkably good, short novel that’s ideal for 11-12 year olds.  It’s recommended reading for parents and teachers who want young people to have some understanding of the refugee experience.

This is the blurb from Fishpond:

Before he becomes a bush, Toda’s father is a pastry chef. He gets up at the crack of dawn to bake twenty different sorts of pastries and three kinds of cake. Until, one day, everything changes. Fighting breaks out in the south and Toda’s father has to go there to defend his country. Luckily he has a manual called ‘What every soldier needs to know’. This tells him how to hide from the enemy by using branches and leaves to disguise himself as a bush. Toda remains in the city with her grandmother but even there it’s no longer safe. She is sent to stay with her mother who lives across the border. Toda’s journey is full of adventure and danger. But she doesn’t give up. She has to find her mother.
… The author has received innumerable awards, including the prestigious Theo Thijssen Prize,  the triennial Dutch State Prize for youth literature.

While the book shows what can and does go wrong – how refugees can get lost, lose their papers, get ripped off by amoral people in positions of power, it also shows the resilience, adaptability and initiative that enables survival.  And it’s not heavy-handed: the author uses Toda’s off-beat sense of humour to show how ridiculous some adults are, and how even when she is hungry and frightened, she can still find comedy in some situations.  Language misunderstandings are rendered with droll humour, and Toda’s confusion about the way she’s expected to behave is often hilarious.

At the Public Welfare Office, a crowd of old women want to adopt her:

She took hold of me and sat me on her lap.
“We’re her,’ she said.
‘Now it’s my turn,’ sais the woman beside her.  She pulled me over and sat me on her lap.  And so it kept going.  They moved me from lap top lap.  Because I was still a bit sleepy, I let them.  Also, I could see that it made them happy.
Every lap was different.  Some were wide and rocked like a boat.  Some were very soft, although you couldn’t sink all the way in because the stomach got in the way.  Some were hard and bony, and there was even one I nearly fell right through.
Once I’d tried out all the laps they put me down again.
‘Now,’ they said.  ‘Who are you going to choose?’
I didn’t know what they meant.  Had this been a ‘best lap’ competition?

Perceptive readers will notice that while Toda is keen to be on her best behaviour at all times, adults don’t seem to worry about this at all.

Highly recommended.

Author: Joke van Leeuwen
Title: The Day My Father Became a Bush
Translated from the Dutch by Bill Nagelkerke
Publisher: Gecko Press, 2013
ISBN: 9781877579165
Source: MPPS School Library

Availability

Fishpond: The Day My Father Became a Bush
Book Depository: The Day My Father Became a Bush

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