Wednesday 16 December 2015

The Creatures of Dryden Gully

The Creatures of Dryden Gully by Aunty Ruth Hegarty, illustrated by Sandi Harrold (Scholastic Australia)
PB RRP $15.99
ISBN 978-1-76015-199-7

Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

There is a meeting in Dryden Gully and Joey is impatient for it to end. He would really rather be practising hopping so he can leave his mother’s pouch and bound around the valley like his mother does. But then he hears Mopoke Owl talk about welcoming strangers to Dryden Gully and he listens more closely. He is proud of his valley and very interested in meeting new creatures.

When he gets a glimpse of them he is amazed. Unlike any animals he has seen before, they have come from across the sea as a gift from the royals to the country. And now he longs to have four legs, to run like these strange new babies. He sneaks off from Mumma to follow them. But soon the Royals run from poachers and are far out of sight leaving Joey alone. Will Mumma be able to find him in time?

The Creatures From Dryden Gully is a gentle story about differences and having your own unique qualities. There is always curiosity in the new and the strange and, in this case, the Natives and the Royals. These differences should be welcomed and celebrated.

The pictures are strong, uncluttered and filled with colour. Close ups of the animals illustrate who they are, (the animals are not named in the text) and add to the characters of the Natives and Royals.

This is an indigenous title by an Aboriginal elder who was a child of the Gunggari Nation and the Stolen Generation. Aunty Ruth Hegarty grew up in an institution and used her vivid imagination in stories, becoming a popular story teller. Her children’s stories are not from the Dreaming, but are mostly about Australian bush animals. She hopes children will learn lessons of great importance from these stories.

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