Catching Teller Crow
Allen & Unwin, 2019
Secondary, Upper Primary
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- Child welfare
- Criminal activity
- Missing children
- Parent and child
- Race awareness
- Stories and motifs
‘Catching Teller Crow’ is a contemporary Australian mystery and thriller for ages 15+. It is a gripping, well-plotted novel with a unique structure that intersperses verse with prose. These forms follow the two different voices, of the Aboriginal characters, Beth Teller and Isobel Catching, who are telling the tale.
Beth is a ghost trying to help her detective father solve a mystery around a children’s home that was burnt down. Isobel Catching is a missing girl who is telling her own mythical story about the Fetchers, the day they caught her, and what they did to her. Throughout the course of the novel, Catching helps Beth to see what she must do to help her father deal with his grief, thereby setting her free to move into the next world.
A plot summary does not do justice to this book, so instead, here is an excerpt from the first page:
‘My dad looked like crap. His blond hair was flat and grubby and his skin seemed too big for his bones. … You’d think it would be me who looked different, Dad said I didn’t. I couldn’t tell, since I didn’t cast a reflection anymore.’ (p 1)
This passage demonstrates the conversational tone of the novel, which should appeal to young adult readers. It also exhibits the skilful way the authors show, rather than tell, the relevant information about Beth’s ghostly status and her father’s state of mind. His hair colour is also relevant to fitting the pieces together about Beth’s Aboriginal identity and family.
This novel should appeal to young adults and would be an excellent cross-curricular study unit for Years 10-12. Parental guidance is recommended for younger readers, as themes of child abuse and police corruption are included.
Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina are a brother-sister team of Aboriginal writers from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
- Teachers’ Notes, Allen & Unwin Publisher’a Website https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/childrens/young-adult-fiction/Catching-Teller-Crow-Ambelin-Kwaymullina-and-Ezekiel-Kwaymullina-9781760631628
- Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2019: Judges’ Report, Excerpt, ‘Catching Teller Crow’ https://www.wheelercentre.com/projects/victorian-premier-s-literary-awards-2019/catching-teller-crow
- Guest Post on Justine Larbalestier’s website. ‘Ambelin Kwaymullina: Thoughts on Being an Ally of Indigenous Writers’, 14 November 2016 https://justinelarbalestier.com/blog/2016/11/14/guest-post-ambelin-kwaymullina-thoughts-on-being-an-ally-of-indigenous-writers/
- Alpha Reader: My Solo Book Club. ‘Race, reviews and children’s literature: some reflections on recent developments in the US – Guest post by Ambelin Kwaymullina. 21 August 2016 http://alphareader.blogspot.com/search/label/Ambelin%20Kwaymullina%20%20guest%20post
- Beyond Blue. ‘Who does it affect? The Invisible Discriminator - Create change at your school’ https://www.beyondblue.org.au/who-does-it-affect/the-invisible-discriminator/create-change-at-your-school