I Love Me, by Sally Morgan & Ambelin Kwaymullina

I Love MeI love me!
I love my eyes.
I love my nose.
I love the way my curly hair grows.

From mother-daughter dup Sally Morgan (author) and Ambelin Kwaymullina (illustrator), I Love Me is a lively celebration of being yourself – and loving yourself. From physical features, inside and out, to emotions and personality, text and illustrations show indigenous children loving being who they are.

The book aims to build self-esteem in indigenous and non-indigenous children and the bright illustrations and bouncy, prose, which uses rhyme, rhythm and repetition will engage youngsters and encourage them to join in the reading.

I Love Me, by Sally Morgan & Ambelin Kwaymullina
Fremantle Press, 2016
ISBN 9781925163490

Eagle, Crow and Emu: Bird Stories by Gladys Milroy and Jill Milroy

High in the treetops a baby eagle shrieked and called for its parents to return. Little Eagle was growing quickly. He was always hungry, so both parents had to leave the nest to find food for him. They loved Little Eagle and couldn’t wait to soar with him into the sky and show him the amazing world they lived in.

eagle, crow and emuHigh in the treetops a baby eagle shrieked and called for its parents to return. Little Eagle was growing quickly. He was always hungry, so both parents had to leave the nest to find food for him. They loved Little Eagle and couldn’t wait to soar with him into the sky and show him the amazing world they lived in.

Eagle, Crow and Emu – Bird Stories is a collection of three bird stories told in an Indigenous storytelling style. In the first, ‘Eagle and Bullfrog’, Little Eagle struggles to learn how to fly, but is helped by his land-dwelling friends. ‘The Great Cold’ tells the story of Magpie who wants to join all the other animals in the Cavern where they will be safe from the Great Cold. First she must find a way to keep her egg warm and safe. In ‘Emu and the Water Tree’, Emu learns the consequences of selfishness and the rewards of sacrifice. Each story includes black and white illustrations and is told in short chapters.

Two of these stories (‘The Great Cold’ and ‘Emu and the Water Tree’) have previously appeared as stand-alone stories, but with ‘Eagle and Bullfrog’ offer a collection of stories ideal for young readers. They offer young Indigenous readers the opportunity to read stories told in the same style as they would have been if shared orally. They also offer non-Indigenous readers an entry point to traditional Australian stories. Buried in each of engaging story is information about the fauna and landscape of Australia as well as stories about how to live. Perfect for newly independent readers and beyond.

Eagle, Crow and Emu – Bird Stories, Gladys Milroy and Jill Milroy
Fremantle Press 2016
ISBN: 9781925163711

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Sister Heart, by Sally Morgan

I am lost
lost
lost
in my saltwater tears.

Snatched from home by a policeman, and sent south on a terrifying ship voyage, Annie finds herself trapped in an institution with other stolen children. She longs for her home up North, with her mum, her baby sister, and her extended family. Instead, she has rules, and strange surroundings, a teacher who yells and punishes and even a new name. The only light comes from her new friend, Janey, who treats her like a sister and helps her learn how to survive. But even their friendship can’t ensure they will be happy.

Sister Heart is a brilliant, beautiful verse novel which uses the poetic narrative to explore the issues of the stolen generation in a form which makes them accessible to young readers. Annie speaks directly to the reader with heart breaking honesty. The immediacy and intimacy of this first person voice will draw readers of all ages into the story.

From the author of My Place and many other books for children, Sister Heart is an important, moving book.

Sister Heart, by Sally Morgan
Fremantle Press, 2015
ISBN 9781925163131

Available from good bookstores and online.

Footy Dreaming by Michael Hyde

Music blasted from the clock radio, loud and insistent. Noah groaned, and still half asleep, searched for the snooze button, but only managed to send the radio crashing to the floor.

He buried his head in the pillow, his mind still in his dream of scrappy play – in and under, then a player marking the ball, forty metres out. Noah thought the player was him but couldn’t be sure, and didn’t know whether he’d kicked the ball or not. …

… On the other side of town, a fit of coughing and spluttering from the kitchen woke Ben from a deep sleep. Ever since he’d been a little kid doing Auskick, bouncing a ball on the way to school, or clutching one of his dozen footballs while he slept, Ben had dreamed about playing footy – dreamed about playing with an AFL club.

Music blasted from the clock radio, loud and insistent. Noah groaned, and still half asleep, searched for the snooze button, but only managed to send the radio crashing to the floor.

He buried his head in the pillow, his mind still in his dream of scrappy play – in and under, then a player marking the ball, forty metres out. Noah thought the player was him but couldn’t be sure, and didn’t know whether he’d kicked the ball or not. …

… On the other side of town, a fit of coughing and spluttering from the kitchen woke Ben from a deep sleep. Ever since he’d been a little kid doing Auskick, bouncing a ball on the way to school, or clutching one of his dozen footballs while he slept, Ben had dreamed about playing footy – dreamed about playing with an AFL club.

Noah and Ben both play weekend footy in the country town where they live and where they attend the same high school. They are both being tipped as contenders for the Bushrangers Development squad. Noah plays with the Mavericks, Ben with their archrival Kookaburras. As the new season of football begins, pressure builds for both boys. For Noah, racism is an extra complication he needs to find a way to manage both on and off the field. Ben is struggling with the attitudes at the club where his father played and where he is expected to remain. The boys form an unexpected friendship, united in their striving for Bushrangers selection.

Footy Dreaming is told in third person omniscient so the reader is able to experience a wide range of viewpoints, although most of the action happens in Noah’s and in Ben’s point of view. But there are also the voices of the townspeople. There’s racism, family loyalty and dynamics, club loyalty, football passion, first tentative relationship, gender roles and more. Primarily, Footy Dreaming is about striving to be the best and to have a chance to shine. There’s plenty here to generate classroom or family discussion. But before that, it’s a ripper read, ideal for early- to mid-secondary readers.

Footy Dreaming, Michael Hyde Ford Street Publishing 2015 ISBN: 9781925000993

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com