This brightly coloured and imaginative picture book was created in collaboration with ten children from five communities, who came together with Australian authors and illustrators for the Spinifex Writers camp in 2016. During their time at the camp, the children were given the freedom to express themselves and tell their stories through their art. The result is nine inter-connected stories, each of which begins with the opening of a door. Young readers will be curious to know what adventures await behind each closed door.
Each story is full of suspense, action, and beauty. Young readers will love being immersed in the imaginative telling of these stories, and will find themselves swimming with dolphins, being chased by sharks and crocodiles, and walking to the top of a volcano. The stories have a playful dream-like quality to them which children from all backgrounds will relate to – with hot lava turning suddenly into cold water, and kids turning into birds, turtles and cats. The final story brings us to the safety and calm of nanna’s waterhole. We feel like we have been on an action-filled journey and have finally come back home.
Various mediums are used for the illustrations – including inks, watercolours and pencils. Each illustrator has a unique style – yet somehow the illustrations all fit seamlessly together, conveying movement, creativity, and an affinity with the land. Bold, bright colours, along with earthy browns and reds, make this book visually appealing, and young hands will delight in touching the glossy pages of this book. Reading this book with preschool and lower primary-aged children may provide a platform for discussion about remote Australian communities, different art techniques, and Australian Aboriginal culture. Students living in remote Indigenous communities will delight in seeing themselves reflected in these colourful stories.
Gregg Dreise is a descendant of the Kamilaroi and Yawalayaay people, from southwest Queensland and northwest NSW. The young authors and illustrators are from various locations and communities, including Tjuntjuntjara, Laverton, Menzies, Mount Margaret and Melbourne.