Saturday, 6 November 2010

Scaly-tailed Possum and Echidna

Scaly-tailed Possum and Echidna by Cathy Goonack, illustrated by Katrina and Marlene Goonack and Myron Goonack (Magabala Books)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN 978-19221248160
Reviewed by Lillian Rodrigues-Pang

As a start I have to say I love this story and the book. Scaly-tailed Possum and Echidna is the story of how the possum became scaly-tailed and how echidna got his spikes. It is a story told by the Goonack family from the Wunambal people – living in the remote Mitchell plateau region of the Kimberley, Western Australia.

Like the majority of Aboriginal stories it involves a wrong-doing, violence, drama and consequence. These are great stories for children, youth and adults as it involves all the elements we know and enjoy!

The book contains a strong sense of voice. I can hear the depth and lilt as I read. The personal photos at the front and back of the book aid this. In particular the photo at the front of Wilfred Goonack teaching his grandson to cook up crocodile is both personal and beautiful and allows the reader to feel a connection to the people for whom this story is a part of their dreaming.

The beginning of the book also describes the artistic process, which was very interesting. The children, with the support of Janie Andrews produced them. They are all silk-screen images. It made me take a closer look at the art and I wish I could view the original silk screens.

This book is not only a dreamtime story it is also an instructional tool. Until reading this I had no idea that a scaly-tailed possum existed in the far north-west of Western Australia. There is a page of information regarding the scaly-tailed possum, the echidna and the Kandiwal mob and their region at the end of the book. It is refreshing to have a reminder about the broad nature and biodiversity of the land we live in and the people whilst reading a lovely dreaming story.

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