Monday, April 15, 2013

Review: Bakir and Bi

Written by Jillian Boyd / Illustrated by Toir-Jay Mordey
ISBN:  RRP:19.95

A fictional story that considers culture and the passing on of information and life-skills ‘long before the tall ships brought strangers to the islands’, Bakir and Bi is a rare find, in that it based on a Torres Strait Islander creation story. Like most Indigenous authored children’s books, Bakir and Bi has a moral; everyone has a deep destiny and purpose in life and that despite the barriers that come your way, if you remain focused, true and honest to yourself, then you will achieve your goals and fulfill your destiny.

Set on the created island of Egur – ‘known throughout the islands for its beauty and abundance’- the story focuses on Bakir and Mar, their two children, and eventually the family totem Bi, the gawei (pelican). Through the telling of the story of the family’s survival, we learn about the arts and craft practices of the islands, fishing as a food source, and that island living is ‘the perfect life’, that is, until famine strikes. 

When times are incredibly tough and family may be forced to turn on each other, there is a reminder that faith, respect for the family totem, and belief in yourself will help you reach a positive ending.

The book weaves the unique Torres Strait Islander language, customs and beliefs through each page and helps to raise awareness of island life – some of which is still practiced today.

Author Jillian Boyd is also a poet and songwriter born and raised on Thursday Island and she is passionate about shaping our future Indigenous leaders. It’s no doubt why she paired up with her niece Tori-Jay Mordey, also born on TI. Readers may well be, as I was, surprised to find that Tori-Jay at only 18 years of age comes across as a seasoned artist.

Bakir and Bi was the winner of the 2012 State Library of QLD black+write! Indigenous WritingFellowship. And holding the 62-page beautifully illustrated hardcover book, there’s no question why it won. The work fills a huge gap in the stories of the Torres Strait, and it is a first-class production.

Get your copy today direct from Magabala Books or Booktopia! 

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