Duelgum, the mother eel, lived in a large waterhole, near the banks of the Brisbane River.
She loved her waterhole. It had everything she needed – reeds and waterlilies that gave her shelter from the hot midday sun, and yabbies, shrimp and frogs to eat whenever she was hungry.
Duelgum had made herself a cosy home under an old log where she could sleep peacefully, safe from danger.
Duelgum opens with the mother eel happy in her watery home. One autumn night she realises that it is time for her to travel far away to lay her eggs. She sets out on her journey by travelling overland between her waterhole and the river that will lead her to the sea. She makes her journey and lays her eggs. The story then shifts to the story of the hatchlings who grow and grow before making their own journey back to the waterhole that was home to their mother. Illustrations set most of the text in white on colour on the left side of each opening, with paintings set in white on the right side. The final page offers information about the author, the story and the reason eels are an important part of the ecosystem.
Duelgum: The Story of the Mother Eel is a traditional story from Uncle Joe Kirk, a Brisbane and Wakka Wakka elder about the life and travels of eels. It offers an introduction to these amazing animals who travel from fresh water to salt to lay their eggs. Told simply, Duelgum is a rich resource of story, nature, and culture. It offers multiple threads for classroom and home discussion and has resonance for a wide range of readers. Recommended for early- middle-schoolers.
Duelgum: The Story of the Mother Eel by Uncle Joe Kirk, with Greer Casey and Sandy Harrold ill Sandi Harrold.
Scholastic 2014 ISBN: 9781743623114
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
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