Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review: Flytrap

Meme McDonald and Boori Monty Pryor
Allen & Unwin 2002 62pp $14.95

I was the kid in primary school who always shot their hand up in the air to answer the question – whether I knew it or not, I’d always give it a go. I don’t know that I ever outright lied about anything, although I did say once that my father could yodel. I thought he could, after all he was Austrian and he made a funny sound that wasn’t a whistle or a song. Turns out that that it wasn’t a yodel, just an attempted yodel. And he refused to demonstrate the weird sound during education week when my teacher asked him to go up and perform.

In Flytrap young Nancy tells a little lie-cum-wish about having her own Venus Flytrap plant, and when she's asked to take it into school, the real stories start to evolve. Seeking her mother's assistance reminded me of myself, and of my own mother who would help me out of sticky situation like as a child. Although Nancy's mum finds it difficult to pull herself away from the computer, she does help to devises some serious silly stories to explain the loss of a non-existent plant – because obviously, Nancy can’t present the plant to her teacher Ms Susan and the class, and she needs to save face.

Nancy’s step-dad Gee (otherwise know as Garth) adds a twist to the story as he brings home some strange critters at times like echidnas, which leads to Nancy – and the reader – learning how the echidna (binggaldamba) got his quills and how to make necklaces from them. There’s also a reminder that sheep are an introduced species to Australia while binggaldamba have been roaming the land for thousands of years.

Interestingly, the key message here isn’t about telling the truth, which is of course alluded to, but the main theme is sharing.

Although this book is for kids 6-11 years of age, I have to say, I really enjoyed it too because Nancy of the ‘tall tales’ is one very engaging storyteller!


Pirra said...

What a great review! I had to google Binggaldamba (not realising it was the Echidna) But it helped me find this gem of a resource for any one playing along at home who might like a teaching resource for the book. (As a home schooler, I am always looking for resources like this)

Teacher notes

(I hope I didn't mess up the code!)

Dr Anita Heiss said...

It's great there's teacher's notes. I meant to note it in the review, so thanks for linking it here! I didn't know you were a home schooler! Many of the Allen and Unwin titles have teacher's notes so suss them all out. I am going to be reviewing the Yarning Strong series over the next couple of weeks, and am sure there'll be more resources for you there! Peace, Anita

Pirra said...

My husband is in the army so we move around a lot. All the swapping from state to state, the staggered grade levels, were the main catalysts for making the decision to home educate.

I saw it as a great opportunity to focus more intensively on topics and subjects I felt were lacking in the conventional education system. In all the schools my children attended over the years, they learnt very little Australian History.

I had all these grand plans for a million and one history lessons we were going to do. That came to a crashing stand hill when I looked around and realised there is very little in the way of packaged curriculum with a dedicated Australian content. It means having to not only collate the information I want, but to also write the curriculum myself.

The biggest stumbling block we have is that we get so excited about a detail and we're off down a rabbit hole, the original lesson falls by the wayside.

It's particularly tough to find Indigenous content. I mean sure, I have Aunts and Uncles (my father died 12 years ago) to turn to, but they do have lives and often the questions I long to ask gather dust. And as you know, sometimes, no matter how you ask they won't tell. Because it's not the right time, or place or because I didn't ask it the right way, but they don't tell you that. You're supposed to figure it out yourself, or they don't want to 'force' your culture on you, even when you're asking for it. (did I mention how frustrating this can be!)

Basic content is easier to source, (for little ones) but mine are all older now, it's like the Australian curriculum will talk about our art and some of our dreamings and our white washed history, then there's nothing. Nothing below University level.

But also the basic stuff is more generalised. I want the kids to know about their people, the stories that belong to them, the ones that sleep inside their very bones, because it's encoded in their DNA.

I may not find exactly what I am looking for, and I may not find it here, but your blog has been a god send for triggering inspiration. You've become one of my best resources for Indigenous literature.

Because whilst I may not find the stories that belong deep in my bones, I find voices that still represent me. It's a gift I am sharing with my kids.