'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 7 January 2013

Review Classic: Sam's Bush Journey

Esteemed indigenous author Sally Morgan has teamed with Ezekiel Kwaymullina to release Sam’s Bush Journey – the story of young Sam, whose bush walks with his Nanna are always scratchy, prickly, itchy and headache-inducing.

Nanna nonetheless patiently encourages her grandson to appreciate the beauty and abundance of the bush and when Sam suddenly finds himself alone in the bush, the words of his Nanna quickly remind him there’s plenty of delicious food, much shelter and fresh water to be found – elements that have allowed his ancestors to survive on the land for many thousands of years.

Will his inherent knowledge, encouraged by his Nanna, impassion this young lad to embrace his culture and homeland?

What’s lovely about Sam’s Bush Journey is that the central character is a typical kid and not some mystical sprite who finds an innate and instant affinity with the bush. Sam just doesn’t like walking in scrub land, he doesn’t like mozzie bites, he doesn’t like being scratched by branches. He’s a typical kid that readers will relate to.

The references to the Dreamtime – both in text and illustration – are more modern in setting, without compromising authenticity. It’s also lovely how Sam’s realizations about the beauty and sustainability of the bush are uncovered in a dream state.

Illustrations by Bronwyn Bancroft are vivid, colourful and indicative of Dreamtime art, but also stand alone, with their own unique style. The colour use is typical of the Australian bush at its prime and the silhouettes of people between the trees lend a haunting quality that culminates in a heartwarming ending when the silhouettes join hands to form hearts.

A strong theme in Sam’s Bush Journey is how vital is it to inherit and appreciate the knowledge passed down from our ancestors – for all of us, but most certainly for Australia’s indigenous people. Expanding our country’s children with more indigenous knowledge is a priceless way to hone our children’s minds and celebrate the aboriginal culture of our nation. I honestly don’t think we can underestimate the power of indigenous storytelling, for so many reasons.

Sam's Bush Journey is a heartwarming, educational and touching story. A must for all Aussie kids and anyone who appreciates authenticity.

Did you know? Sally Morgan is a Palkyu person from the Pilbara in north-west of Western Australia. The book was co-written with her son Ezekiel Kwaymullina, who was also the co-author of the Curly and the Fent series.

Title: Sam’s Bush Journey
Author: Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina
Illustrator: Bronwyn Bancroft
Publisher: Little Hare, $24.99 RRP
Publication Date: September 2009
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781921541049
For ages: 4 - 8
Type: Picture Book