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Stories from the Billabong
     

Stories from the Billabong

by James Vance Marshall, Francis Firebrace (Illustrator)
 

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From the author of Walkabout come ten of Australia's ancient aboriginal legends, authentically and elegantly retold. Here you can discover how Great Mother Snake created and peopled the world with plants and creatures, what makes Frogs croak, why Kangaroo has a pouch, and just what it is that makes Platypus so special. The illustrations are by the aboriginal artist

Overview

From the author of Walkabout come ten of Australia's ancient aboriginal legends, authentically and elegantly retold. Here you can discover how Great Mother Snake created and peopled the world with plants and creatures, what makes Frogs croak, why Kangaroo has a pouch, and just what it is that makes Platypus so special. The illustrations are by the aboriginal artist and storyteller Francis Firebrace, whose distinctive, colourful work is known throughout Australia and beyond.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Elizabeth Fronk
This collection of stories comes from the Aboriginal people of Australia where they tell the stories around campfires and waterholes. Each story uses acrylic illustrations from an Aboriginal artist who paints mainly in the colors of black, white, red, and yellow. The illustrations incorporate symbols with specific meanings which are explained at the book's end. The stories take place in the period Aboriginal people call the "Dreamtime" and describe how the world was created, how the kangaroo got a pouch, and how special native plants grew. Each story has some additional information at the end to describe the Australian creature or plant. Also a glossary at the back of the book clarifies words that may be unique to Australia. While it is important to record these stories due to their oral nature, one wonders if the stories would better serve older readers in a beginning folklore or mythology class. The stories' illustrations do not provide enough of a context for younger readers and the unusual vocabulary and sparse illustrations may discourage an older reader. An additional help might have been an audio of these stories since they have an oral tradition. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fronk
School Library Journal

Gr 2-6

With the help of Aboriginal storytellers who have collected the tales and myths of their people, Marshall has assembled 10 fascinating stories of the Dreamtime. Many explain why some things are the way they are: "How the Kangaroo got her Pouch," "Why Frogs can only Croak," and "How the Crocodile got its Scales." Others tell about the creation of the Earth, death, and other universal concerns. Each selection is beautifully told and is illustrated by a traditional artist who uses the distinctive symbols and colors of the Aboriginal people. An informational page follows each retelling, giving readers facts about the subject. Concluding pages offer a brief explanation of who the Aboriginal Australians are and an illustrated spread that explains the symbols and their meanings. This is an engaging, colorful book that belongs in most libraries.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI

Kirkus Reviews
With the permission of Aboriginal storytellers hoping to keep their myths and legends alive, the reteller, most famous for his book Walkabout (1959), has created a collection of ten stories accompanied by information about the flora, fauna and land formations mentioned. The anthology includes stories about the origins of Uluru (once known as Ayers Rock), the kangaroo's pouch, the mountain rose and the scales of the crocodile. Next to the stories, the informational descriptions seem dry, but useful, with their measurements both in the metric system and English units. The glossary, two pages on Aboriginal symbols and a short afterword on the Aboriginal people are good additions to the book. Firebrace is from the Yorta-Yorta group, river people who lived near Victoria, and his paintings of the platypus and the crocodile are especially bold. His images swings from a more traditional Aboriginal style with vibrant colors and distinct, flattened shapes to a softer rendering of flowers and insects. Due to the oral transmission of the stories, no written sources are included. A welcome and important addition to folklore collections. (Folklore. 7-11)
From the Publisher
A book that will be enjoyed for its educational value and for the delightful re-telling of its age-old tales.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781845077044
Publisher:
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Publication date:
04/28/2009
Pages:
64
Product dimensions:
8.40(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

James Vance Marshall is also published under the names Ian Cameron and Donald Payne. His most famous book, Walkabout, was first published as The Children, and was later made into a movie by the director Nicholas Roeg. His other books include A River Ran Out of Eden, The Lost Ones (dramatised by Disney as The Island at the Top of the World) and White-Out. He lives in Dorking, SurreyFrancis Firebrace is a 'Wirrigan man', a name given to a wise Aboriginal elder whose songs, including traditional didgeridoo, retell the old stories and speak of freeing the spirit. He is one of Australia's foremost Aboriginal storytellers who has been 'yarning' since he can't remember when and performing at schools, festivals and theatres. He is also a highly respected artist whose works have been displayed throughout the world. He paints in the four colours his people (the Yorta Yorta) have used since the beginning of time: black from fire coals, white from pipe clay, red and yellow from ground ochre, and he mixes these with acrylic to achieve his own distinctive, contemporary effect. Francis lives in Weybridge, Surrey.

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