Cheeky Dogs : To Lake Nash and Back : An Illustrated Memoir
Allen & Unwin, 2019
5-8yrs, Lower Primary, Primary, Upper Primary
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- Art motifs
- Ilperrelhelame / Alpurrurulam / Lake Nash (SE Central NT SF53-04)
- Literary devices
- Northern Territory
- Stories and motifs
‘Cheeky Dogs : To Lake Nash and Back’ is an illustrated memoir by deaf artist Dion Beasley, who has beautifully captured life in a remote Australian community through story and art. As well as being deaf, Dion has muscular dystrophy, so he zips around on his scooter to feed and play with the various dogs who inhabit the area. Dion’s poetic stories and recollections of growing up in a remote community are full of humour, playfulness and heartbreak.
We observe, through the interplay between images and words, Dion’s gently told stories of family, animals, dreams, and loss. The unique and engaging illustrations are both exuberant and dark-edged. This alternation between light and dark is also reflected in Dion’s stories of his dreams. While he dreams of monsters in the darkness of night, in the daylight he dreams about capturing the light and warmth of the sun.
The reader feels a sense of connectedness with Dion as we observe his strength, talent, and love of story. Threading through these stories, observations, and drawings, and linking them all together, is the theme of the importance of community. Dion expresses his love of being home with family in Lake Nash. Young readers might like to reflect on where they feel most at home, and how ‘home’ can mean different things to different people.
Young readers will be inspired and intrigued by these reflections of a way of life that is different to their own. This memoir shines a light on the possibility of achieving great things even when at times it may feel impossible. This message will ultimately be inspiring to the target audience of this book – as well as to adult readers.
This book would be useful in a classroom setting as a platform for discussion of biographies and memoirs, family and community, animals, and loss. This book could also be utilised as a tool to explore various art techniques, and ways of telling story.
Dion and Johanna have previously published two picture books together, ‘Too Many Cheeky Dogs,’ and ‘Go Home, Cheeky Animals!’ - which won the CBCA Book of the Year Early Childhood award in 2017. ‘Cheeky Dogs : To Lake Nash and Back’ is their third book together.
Artist Dion Beasley is an Alywarr man who lives in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. His father's country is Owairtilla, also known as Canteen Creek, and his mother's country is Alpurrurulam, also known as Lake Nash.
- ABC Radio. SoundCloud. SPUN: True Stories Told in the Territory. ‘Johanna Bell Interview with Rohan Barwick, ABC Radio.’ https://soundcloud.com/spunstories/johanna-bell-interview-with
- ABC. Lateline. 23 May 2016. ‘Disabled Indigenous artist puts his home town of Tennant Creek firmly on the map.’ https://www.abc.net.au/lateline/disabled-indigenous-artist-puts-his-home-town-of/7439306
- ABC Local. mo3 file – audio interview. 7 June 2013. ‘Cheeky dogs help build Indigenous literacy.’ http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/local/darwin/201306/r1127073_13854210.mp3
- NSW Government – Education. Learning & Teaching Directorate. January 2017. ‘Human Society and Its Environment: Guide to using picture books in Geography K-10.’ pp. 22-23. https://www.gtav.asn.au/documents/item/842