His Father’s Eyes
Ali Cobby Eckermann
Oxford University Press, 2011
Primary, Secondary, Upper Primary
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- Aboriginal Australians
- Novels in verse
- Parent and child
- Stolen generations
Declan doesn’t see his father much. His parents are separated but Declan has just found out his father is coming to Alice Springs for three months for work. He’s looking forward to it especially as some of the time he will be staying with him as his mother is going overseas. Declan is starting high school with his best mate Joel, and their team has a chance of making the basketball finals, a possibility made even better by his Dad being able to come to the games.
Declan is upset when he and Joel are placed into separate classes at school. Although his new teacher is ‘okay’ he baulks at writing the short essay about his family as he doesn’t want her to know his Dad is Aboriginal and his Mum isn’t.
When his father arrives Declan can’t help but notice the sadness in his father’s eyes. After his mother flies out Declan’s dad ignores her instructions about school and bedtimes and they head out bush and Declan meets members of his extended family. Throughout the book the reader learns the father’s story when a person or object triggers memories of, and reflections on, his childhood. We learn that Declan’s father was taken from his family and sent to a mission far from his Country.
Events take a tragic turn when Joel’s younger sister is hit by a car and sadly dies. As Declan’s dad comforts him we learn that he had a sister once and that she was taken from the mission on a plane and he has not been able to find her since. The sadness felt by Declan and his father by these parallel tragedies is helped by time spent out bush with family, both his extended Aboriginal family and time spent with his mother and his friends. He realises ‘the strength of family should never be broken’.
The Stolen Generations is a sad and painful chapter is Australia’s history. Poet Ali Cobby Eckermann was part of the Stolen Generation and the sadness of that experience is beautifully and sensitively woven into this verse novel. Ali Cobby Eckermann is a Yankunytjatjara / Kokatha woman born on Kaurna land in South Australia.
Series : Yarning Strong : Family
- ‘Ali Cobby Eckermann’s poetry: inspiring those of us who feel like outsiders’ https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/04/ali-cobby-eckermanns-poetry-inspiring-those-of-us-who-feel-like-outsiders
- ‘Ali Cobby Eckermann a poet who writes about being Aboriginal in Australia’ https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-11-01/meet-ali-cobby-eckermann-poet-who-writes-about-being-native-australia
- Poet Ali Cobby Eckermann wins major literary prize https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/archived/booksandarts/iwd:-poet-ali-cobby-eckermann-wins-major-literary-prize/8332090
- Explaining the Stolen Generations to Children https://australianstogether.org.au/discover/australian-history/stolen-generations
- Series of Youtube interviews with Ali Cobby Eckermann https://redroomcompany.org/ali-cobby-eckermann-hsc-resource/