Cyclones and Shadows (Pat Dudgeon, Laura Dudgeon, Sabrina Dudgeon & Darlene Oxenham, Fremantle Press)
This sweet collection of stories from Fremantle Press’ ‘Waarda’ series will appeal to teachers, librarians and parents who want to talk with kids about the different experiences of people around Australia. What’s great is that these are Indigenous stories without explicitly hammering the point home—they’re simply tales about kids who happen to be Indigenous (and happen to be girls too, though pleasingly that doesn’t make much of a difference to their characters, either). What will be unusual for children raised in southern Australian cities are the mango and mangrove trees, the caravan homes and eventually, the cyclone in the final story. It’s a slice of life utterly different from urban existence, which is partially what the first story centres on, when the protagonist, Lilli, moves with her parents away from her remote community to a new town. Exposing younger readers to contemporary Indigenous experiences seems to be what authors Pat Dudgeon, Laura Dudgeon, Sabrina Dudgeon and Darlene Oxenham are going for here, and they pull it off extremely well. The language is simple, the stories are charming and the book’s light touch will prompt conversations about new cultural experiences without feeling like a heavier ‘issues’-centric book.
Hannah Cartmel is an editor and co-founder of The Rag & Bone Man Press Inc.