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

Wednesday 30 March 2022

Reviews: Maku and When Granny Came to Stay

What a fabulous new series for your emergent readers! We all know how excited our little readers get when they make the leap to chapter books and this brilliantly conceptualised series, edited by Dr Randa Abdel-Fattah is going to be a must-have for every library. 

She says, 'The aim of Our Stories is to offer early readers engaging, thought-provoking, memorable, tender and funny stories and lived experiences of children living on First Nations’ lands. I want young readers to have these stories about anti-racism, inclusion and identity embedded naturally into their reading.'  Here here, say I! 

Most people who know me and my work, have known that I have long had a passion not only for sharing and embedding our Australian First Nations perspective but also promoting inclusivity and the true acceptance of diversity. And the only way to achieve this successfully is by ensuring this is the norm for our little people.

We only have to take a look around us at the disintegration of society –from the complete abandonment of common courtesy and consideration (think toilet paper shortages) to the despicable actions in Europe – to know that our only hope is for our children to grow up with a completely different mind-set.

The first two titles in this delightful offering will be released at the end of March and more are already in the pipeline, so take note and make room on your orders lists.

Maku has clearly had an unsettled life. He’s changed schools a number of times  and always seems the odd one out. He loves superhero movies and when his new teacher asks what he would like to do as an adult, he knows it will be movie-making. The other kids mostly think his name is funny and ridicule him but he does have one supporter, Leya, and he does have his Nan and Pop. His grandparents are rangers on Country and we learn from the narrative that they are fighting to have Maku live with them. [My interjection here is that not many people realise just how difficult it can be for Aboriginal families to be allowed to foster their own kin children.  The protocol of putting Indigenous kids with non-Indigenous families is still the norm.]  

Maku’s weekend away on Country with his Nan and Pop not only gives him inspiration for his movie but also teaches him valuable lessons about culture and ceremony.  Little readers will gain an insight into life as an Aboriginal child and the importance of the teaching from Elders while at the same time enjoying Maku’s ideas about his rather different superhero.

I admit I was unfamiliar with Meyne’s name as such but know his credentials well enough via his many film and TV credits. I certainly look forward to seeing more of his fiction for children if that’s in the forecast. Our youngsters, especially Mob kiddos, need such writers from an early age.

Title: Maku
Author: Meyne Wyatt
Publisher: Pan Macmillan, Imprint: Pan Australia $12.99
Date of Publication: 29 March 2022
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760987756
For ages: 6+
Type: Junior Fiction

Alice Pung is one of our leading Asian-Australian authors though most would normally associate her name with outstanding YA novels. This gorgeous story beautifully demonstrates her ability to write for a much younger audience.  

This would be the perfect book for little people at my most recent school for sure as we had such a high percentage of Asian students particularly in the junior years but truly it will make a wonderful addition for any collection as the narrative will resonate so easily with all children.  

As educators, we have all lived through the many and varied fads of gadgets, gizmos and collectibles and, no doubt, there will be no end to these in the foreseeable future. Pangzi (Fatty as his Grandma calls him) is obsessed with the latest plaything at his school. 

EVERYONE is playing with Destroyer Discs and Pangzi has been begging for one too.  When Grandma arrives from China to look after Pangzi for a while, when his mum returns to work, she brings him the gift of a Destroyer Disc but alas! It is just a flimsy knock-off and no good for serious battling. 

Pangzi loves his Grandma but just maybe he loves her better when she’s still in China, not making spinning tops out of old food containers or feeding him limp potato noodles or trying to hold his hand on the way to school. But by the end of the term, when Mum has managed to get him into after-school care and Grandma is returning to China, Pangzi realises just how much he will miss his grandmother, with her wisdom, love and cultural differences. 

This is just a lovely and warm look at a different family set-up and it won’t only be your Asian students who will make connections with it, I guarantee.

Title: When Granny Came to Stay
Author: Alice Pung. Illustrated by Sally Soweol Han
Publisher: Pan Macmillan, Imprint: Pan Australia $12.99
Date of Publication: 29 March 2022
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760984991
For ages: 6+
Type: Junior Fiction

I can wholeheartedly recommend both to you and urge you to keep your eyes open for the forthcoming titles. It is so lovely to see such genuinely impressive and timely additions to the canon for our youngest readers. PS – that is such a cute logo!