Guest Post: Belle Alderman on the NCACL Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource

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At KBR today we are pleased to introduce Belle Alderman, Emeritus Professor of Children’s Literature and Director of the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature Inc (NCACL) in Canberra to tell us more about the recently launched Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource

Ms Alderman has been involved with the NCACL since its establishment in 1974 by Lu Rees who envisioned it as a national collection. Today the NCACL has 46,000 books, authors’ papers, illustrators’ artworks and more. The collection is valued at $10 million dollars. The Centre collects, preserves, documents, shares and inspires all ages to engage with their cultural heritage.

NCACLogo - Guest Post: Belle Alderman on the NCACL Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource

Recently the NCACL launched its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource, why this resource and why now?

The United Nations declared 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. They highlighted the consequences of the growing loss of Indigenous languages and sought to establish the link between language, development, peace, and reconciliation. Inspired, we wanted to contribute. The Australian Government provided a grant and made this project possible.

Who do you hope will use this resource?
Everyone, but especially those working with children.

Who was involved in the creation of this resource?
Over 30 people across Australia participated, representing varied cultural backgrounds including Aboriginal People. NCACL experts, Aboriginal ‘critical friends’, a reference group, project team and moderators all worked together to create this high quality resource.

Could you share some of what you consider the seminal works in the resource?
There are so many, but here are a few with special strengths: A is for Aunty by Elaine Russell; Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy Murphy; I Love Me by Sally Morgan; Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh and Coming Home to Country by Bronwyn Bancroft.

a is for aunty - Guest Post: Belle Alderman on the NCACL Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resourcealfred s war - Guest Post: Belle Alderman on the NCACL Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource

What is the first entry into the resource and the latest at this time?
The ‘oldest’ book is Djugurba : Tales from the Spirit Time, written by Ralph Gumudul et al, published in 1974 and the most recent entry is Respect written by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson and illustrated by Lisa Kennedy.

Djugurba - Guest Post: Belle Alderman on the NCACL Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ResourceRespect - Guest Post: Belle Alderman on the NCACL Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource

The NCACL also has a Cultural Diversity Database and now an Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander Resource, what distinguishes a database from a resource?
We want to emphasise that these books are resources to be shared. The database is simply a tool to easily find and share books with others.

What has been the role of Australian children’s publishers in publishing Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander voices?
Publishers have raised our interest and inspired us to appreciate Culture and Country. Magabala Books and Fremantle Press bridge cultures by bringing together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal creators. The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) inspires Aboriginal children to create stories. Allen & Unwin, Penguin Random House, Hardie Grant Egmont, Scholastic Australia and others offer high quality, culturally sensitive books. The field is growing in quality and diversity.

There has been an interest in the importance of own voices sharing stories, have you seen a change across the timeline within the resource to reflect this?
Publishers are aware of the need for ‘own voices’. There are several new awards and mentorships for emerging and unpublished Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander creators. Established creators continue.

How will the list be maintained and expanded on in the future?
We will update the Resource regularly with 20 new books waiting. We are keen to gain funding to expand the collection to include books for secondary aged young people.

young dark emu - Guest Post: Belle Alderman on the NCACL Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource

And finally, what is your personal favourite in the resource and why?
Young Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe (Magabala Books 2019) offers an unforgettable story of truth, history and culture.

Thank you for your time, Dr Alderman. At KBR we recognise the importance of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource and encourage young and old, parents, teachers, caregivers, librarians and more to make good use of this important resource.

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.