Wintering in Alice Springs, Maureen Mann has been investigating Indigenous literature celebrated in the area. Join her as she explores stories about Country and living in outback Australia.
Having spent some time in Alice Springs recently, (what a great place it is in winter), I have enjoyed looking at the range of indigenous stories from across the country. Some of the titles I recognise but many don't seem to have been widely stocked in Tasmania, which is understandable. One of the things which came across strongly to me, and it's obvious once it has been verbalised, is that each area not only has its own language, traditions and food, but that knowledge doesn't automatically transfer to another area.
Here are just a few of the titles which caught my eye, not in any priority order and not all very recent.
Mum's Elephant by Maureen O'Keefe and illustrated by Christina Booth. I'm sorry I missed this publication last year. Mum has a precious elephant which shares much of her life. Why is it so important? Booth's illustrations keep the reader guessing.
Coming Home to Country by Bronwyn Bancroft. With Bancroft's signature illustrations depicting the joy of coming home, especially to the creek and being on country.
The books by Dion Beasley and Johanna Bell: Too Many Cheeky Dogs, Go Home Cheeky Animals (which I'm sure you remember from the 2017 Book of the Year awards), Cheeky Dogs to Lake Nash and Back (an illustrated memoir) have featured prominently in several shops I visited. They show the fascination Tennant Creek artist Bell has with dogs and other animals.
Emus Under the Bed by LeAnn J Edwards describes the fun had at Auntie Dollo's house, connecting family and culture, using feathers, making damper and playing with baby emus. I love the cover.
Tell 'Em by Katrina Germein, Rosemary Sullivan and the children of Manyallaluk School in the Roper River area. Starting with the cover, the reader is shown how much there is to do in their remote community
The Seven Sisters by Reggie Sultan. The seven sisters are the 7 stars of the Pleiades in the Milky Way and some of the traditional stories about their visit to earth. Sultan is from the Central Desert region near Barrow Creek and has created wonderful illustrations.
My Country by Ezekiel Kwaymullina and Sally Morgan has bright illustrations connecting a child to his place.
Main Abija My Grandad by Karen Rogers. This dual language book describes the relationship, love and teaching of culture and country by a grandfather to his granddaughter. A celebration of family.
The Oo in Uluru by Judith Barker. With Uluru having been one of our destinations I enjoyed this book playing on the sounds in the word.
Kunyi by Kunyi June Anne McInerney. This is Kunyi's own story and paintings of her life in Oodnadatta Children's Home in the 1950s. The illustrations are vibrant and alive and throughout the story is alive.
Thanks to Red Kangaroo Bookshop in Alice Springs for your help and conversations. It was a pleasure looking at these books and there are so many more I could have shared.
Retired teacher librarian and avid reader