Friday 16 December 2011

The Boy and the Crocodile: the legend of East Timor

 The Boy and the Crocodile: the legend of East Timor illustrated by children from the Familia Hope Orphanage (Affirm Press)
PB RRP $19.95
ISBN 978-098713262-8
Reviewed by Lillian Rodrigues-Pang

This book is an absolute inspiration. It is a creation tale about how East Timor the island came into being, how it got its shape and how kindness and friendship can create great things.

This is particularly apt as the story of the book creation is a magnificent one. It came from collaboration between Australia (Affirm press), Familia Hope Orphanage and Arte Morris in Dili, East Timor. Familia Hope Orphanage is home to 30 children, many of whom lost their parents in East Timor’s violent struggle for independence. They are now at an age where they must look to personal independence in the near future. This book was designed to give them a helping hand. All proceeds of this book will go to the orphanage.

The artwork was produced through workshops with the children of the orphanage and Arte Morris. Arte Morris is a free Fine Arts and Cultural Centre in Dili. It was established to use art as a building block in the psychological and social reconstruction of East Timor, a country devastated by war. It has a particular focus on the young. Its story alone is fascinating -

This book goes beyond helping those in the orphanage alone. Copies of this book were presold to finance the production and distribution (free) of a Tetum version of The Boy and the Crocodile. 5000 copies are being given out in the hope to foster an understanding of their own culture, legends and language, something sorely missing in East Timor presently.

All up this book is a gorgeous creation tale. The illustrations are beautiful and offer a variety that is true of a communal production. It teaches of friendship and kindness. It allows those who purchase it to assist others less fortunate. What more could you want in a book for yourself or as a gift for others?

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