Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review: Wandihnu and the Old Dugong

2007 Magabala Books $18.95


According to the Black Words: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Writers and Storytellers research community, there are around 170 published Torres Strait Islander writers. That’s quite a few I hear you say. But how many have you read? I myself have Terri Janke, Marcus Pedro, Selena Solomon, Ellie Gaffney and others on my shelves. But clearly I have many more to buy!

Right now, I’m embarrassed to admit this it has taken me this long to read and review this wonderful title by Elizabeth Wymarra and her daughter Wandihnu. Elizabeth was born on Thursday Island and is a talented (and VERY funny) performance artist, comedian and playwright. Her skills were passed on to her daughter who managed to write her first play the age of seven years old.

Wandihnu and the Old Dugong  which they penned together was part of a ‘bonding exercise’ and resulted in a culturally rich story and beautiful looking book illustrated by Benjamin Hodges.

Wandihnu and the Old Dugong is a valuable resources as it’s a positive story about Aboriginal and Torres Strait identity in the 21st century. We follow young city-born Wandihnu on a journey back to her roots on the island of Badu in the western part of the Torres Strait. Wandihnu learns language – or so she should – and there in lies the lesson of this tale.

Similar to other titles from Magabala Books like Nana’s Land, this book is a morality story about respecting your elders and listening to what they say.

This is not only an upbeat book to read at bedtime, it would also be of great value in the classroom encouraging kids of all ages to research their own background and heritage.

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