Saturday, 13 April 2013

Jandamarra by Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton – book review

I’m finding it really difficult to find a way to talking to my four year old about Aboriginal history because, no matter how you explain it, it is tragic and so unfair and that’s hard to explain to a little person who has only just learnt about sharing and being kind to other people.

The story of Jandamarra is another example of that tragedy.

A good person caught between two cultures Jandamarra becomes an outlaw and commits terrible crimes. 

The crimes committed again him and his people are equally horrible.

Interesting and really sad, this story highlights the impossible position of the Indigenous people once white settlers came but in a way that is accessible for children.

The book doesn’t make anyone into a hero or even take sides (although it is sympathetic to the Indigenous people), it just tells a story of Australia’s history.

The insights into Aboriginal culture and beliefs are amazing: “They rubbed him with a magic stone to make him fearless and invisible. They hid his spirit in the stone and placed it in the water.”

Terry Denton’s illustrations more than do the story justice, with what seems like just a few lines he manages to capture so much emotion, as well as the stunning landscape of the Kimberley.

This book is easy to read, but not easy to read (if you know what I mean) but I would recommend it very highly.

Who’ll love it: Teachers and primary school aged kids will find it fascinating.
Cost: $29.99
Publisher: Allen and Unwin   

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