Grandfather Emu : And How the Kangaroo Got Her Pouch
Boolarong Press, 2021
5-8yrs, Lower Primary, Primary, Upper Primary
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English, Noongar / Nyungar / Nyungah languages (W41) (WA SI50)
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- Aboriginal Australian languages
- Animal names
- Glossaries and vocabularies
- Noongar / Nyungar / Nyungah people (WA41) (WA S150)
- Oral storytelling
- Visual literacy
In this Aboriginal Dreaming story, a wise Kangaroo talks about The Great Spirit of the Dreaming, the creator of all and the test that The Great Spirit devises for the animals. The Great Spirit transforms into Grandfather Emu. The elderly emu is unable to source water or food and he hobbles along in a desperate attempt to source these. He walks through the bush and encounters several bush animals, Mother Numbat, a crow and a goanna. He asks the animals if they will help him. Each of the animals are distracted with attending to their own needs, so Grandfather Emu grows weaker as he continues to look for water and food without any assistance.
A kangaroo, Mother Yonga, spots Grandfather Emu and asks if she may be of assistance. Mother Yonga compassionately responds to his request and helps him find the creek. Upon learning that the old emu was also hungry, Mother Yonga places her joey in a safe place, away from the threat of harm so that she can continue to help the old emu find food. When Mother Kangaroo returns to the creek, the Great Spirit reveals itself and offers a reward to Mother Kangaroo for being the only animal who helped Grandfather Emu. Mother Kangaroo remains selfless when choosing her reward, one that benefits all female marsupials.
The story is visually driven as vibrant and colourful illustrations illuminate the pages. There are striking images of bush scenes, featuring unique Australian trees such as the Balga trees (grass trees) and flowers. The illustrations include dot painting, patterns and fascinating details to complement the narrative.
This Dreaming Story includes Aboriginal words from the Noongar Language of Western Australia and contains a beautiful lesson about being kind and helping our Elders. It highlights that we are all part of one community and working together, showing compassion and cooperation is vital. Being too busy, apathetic and selflessly driven causes divisions, isolation and unnecessary suffering. Central to the teaching is that we are at our strongest when we help each other and work together.
At the end of the story is a song titled ‘Take the Time To Help’ as well as a list of Aboriginal words from the Noongar Language of Western Australia and their English translations.
This story is also available as an audiobook. The audiobook features Rhonda Collard-Spratt reading the story which transports the reader to the bush as they hear the calls of the different bush animals, the creek flowing, a fire crackling and a didgeridoo playing. This version of the story also allows the readers to hear the pronunciation of Aboriginal words from the Noongar Language of Western Australia that are included in this book.
Aunty Rhonda Collard-Spratt, or Aunty Curlew, is a strong Yamatji-Noongar woman, and a respected representative of the Stolen Generations. She was born in Carnarvon, Western Australia.
'Grandfather Emu : and How the Kangaroo Got Her Pouch' is set to be a five-part series.
Series title: Spirit of the Dreaming no 1
- Interview with Aunty Rhonda Collard-Spratt and Jacki Ferro on Studio 10. Video featured on the Boolarong Press website https://boolarongpress.com.au/product/grandfather-emu/
- Sunday Extra with Julian Morrow on ABC ‘The Year that Made Me : Rhonda Collard-Spratt, 2017, broadcast 20 June 2021’ https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/sundayextra/13395018
- ABC radio interview - Aunty Rhonda shares her truth and trauma in ‘Grandfather Emu’. Broadcast with Rebecca Levingston, 15 June 2021 https://www.abc.net.au/radio/brisbane/programs/mornings/aunty-rhonda-grandfather-emu/13388848
- Wilf Douglas. Edith Cowan University, Research Online. Illustrated Dictionary of the South-West Aboriginal Language https://ro.ecu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=7885&context=ecuworks
- Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation. Noongar Activity Pack http://noongarboodjar.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Animals-Barna-Activity-pack.pdf