Wednesday 23 March 2022

The Dunggiirr Brothers and the Caring Song of the Whale

The Dunggiirr Brothers and the Caring Song of the Whale by Aunty Shaa Smith with Yandaarra (Allen and Unwin) ISBN 9781760526313 RRP $24.99 HB

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

At the centre of this book is a story told by Aunty Shaa Smith about when the sea was first made and how the people were cut off but were saved by the Koala Bothers (Dunggiirr). Aunty Shaa is one of the story holders for the Ngamgaa and Gumbaynggirr countries and on the first pages is a map which shows these areas on the mid north coast of New South Wales. The following pages are illustrated with a combination of photographs of important natural places and artwork depicting the story (also by Aunty Shaa).  Amongst that, written in English but dispersed with traditional language, are descriptions of culture and the whale (Garruuja) singing its song of love and respect for all living things.

At the beginning of the book, the reader is told that the story of the Koala Brothers belongs to all times, not just the past. There are demonstrations of this throughout the book with pictures of Aunty Shaa’s family living their lives near the beach and in the bush, where they make a camp and spend time with one other. The most powerful image is of a young child being lifted to put their hand in the outline of a larger hand, part of a mosaic indigenous art piece. The book finishes with an invitation to everyone to look after the earth and each other. 

The Dunggiirr Brothers and the Caring Song of the Whale shares a lot of information about language, tradition, and culture in a generous, personal way. The underlying themes of caring for the environment and treating others well, are obviously extremely relevant for today. Recommended for older primary school children aged 7-12 years.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Buzz Words Books would love to hear what you think.