Monday 1 December 2014

Lucky Thamu

Lucky Thamu by Cheryl Kickett-Tucker and Jaylon Tucker (Fremantle Press)
PB RRP $9.99
ISBN 9-781-925-161-304
Reviewed by Neridah McMullin

The Waarda Series are wonderful little books. In Waarda, Noongar is the word(s), for talking and sharing stories and information.

Initiated by renowned Aboriginal artist and writer, Sally Morgan, the series is designed to support the literacy needs of Indigenous children in primary school by making books available to them written by Indigenous authors. Of course, at the same time, it introduces non-Indigenous children to the richness of Indigenous storytelling.
It’s a school holiday and ten-year-old Eli is off to stay with his Thamu (grandfather) and his Garbarli (grandmother). They live in Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and even though it’s a long trip from Perth, it’s worth it. Eli loves his Thamu. He loves listening to his stories and learning about country and about his people.
Thamu also shares his love of camping and prospecting for gold with Eli. He tells a great story about how he stumbled upon a huge gold nugget only ten years before. Eli never tires of this story and loves to hear it over and over. He can’t wait to go looking for gold nuggets with Thamu.
Thamu and Eli’s Uncle Marshall, take Eli camping at White Rabbit Patch. It’s a flat area with a dry creek bed and a large waterhole at the top end of the creek. There are low shrubs and a few trees. Thamu knows how to set up the perfect camp and they sleep in the open in their swags under the stars. They settle in and tell stories around the campfire well into the night. This is the same place Thamu found his gold nugget.
The next day they go ‘specking’ (looking for gold). Thamu explains how gold nuggets can sit half buried in the burrna yurral (red dirt) and he shows Eli how to lick it and hold it up to the sun to get a reflection from it. After ‘specking’ for a few hours, Eli becomes frustrated at having had no luck in finding gold, until he crosses path with a lucky white rabbit. Eli chases the rabbit for ages, ducking and weaving and diving. Hot and sweaty and dusty, he sits at the entrance of the rabbit burrow and finds before him…a nugget! His first gold nugget.
Beautifully told, I highly recommend Lucky Thamu. It’s a gentle read, about family and love and patience. It’s insightful, giving the reader a strong impression about what the characters’ lives and culture are all about. I very much enjoyed all the indigenous words spaced throughout the text with the English translation next to it in brackets.
Lucky Thamu is an informative and engaging story and the Waarda Series are ideal first chapter books for new readers.
Neridah McMullin is the author of five books for children. Her latest book is an Indigenous folklore story called Kick it to Me! It’s an ‘Aussie rules’ story endorsed by the Australian Football League. Neridah loves family, footy and doing yoga with her cat Carlos (who also just happens to love footy).

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