Omnibus Books (Scholastic), 2007; 2021
Primary, Secondary, Upper Primary
AC Links/EYLFACELA1475, ACELT1594, ACELT1596, ACELT1599, ACHASSK062, ACHASSK069, ACSSU044, ACPPS033, ACPPS034, ACPPS035, ACPPS041
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English, Kriol, Mayali language (N44) (NT SD53-01)
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- Adventure stories
- Boarding schools and Residential colleges
- Indigenous knowledge
- Northern Australia
Leaving home to attend boarding school can be daunting for any young person. Dale, a boy from a remote Indigenous community, finds the transition particularly difficult. He is not Indigenous but has been regarded as a brother by his friend Tomias and Tomias’s family. Dale is shocked to find that the school does not agree with this and won’t even put the boys into the same House. Dale is a boy who expresses his emotions openly and perhaps too readily and finds himself in trouble on the first day. His feelings of displacement from his home and country are exacerbated when Tomias becomes very involved in music lessons and develops an interest in a girl.
Close to the school is a patch of remnant forest which becomes very important to Dale, particularly when he finds two elderly Indigenous people living there, people who have the old knowledge. Dale gives them food and helps protect them from being moved on by council workers and police although the old man is able to protect himself by conjuring up snakes which terrify some of the police. The old man also is the keeper of the knowledge about the area where the forest is to be found, knowledge that becomes important in Dale’s saving of his friend Billy from a cave deep in the ground. This adventure highlights the bravery of both Dale and Tomias, who comes to help, despite his fears.
The remnant forest becomes the focus of further action by Dale, his friends and a group of teachers who hear that the local council, with the support of some teachers and parents, want to clear the area. The environmental and cultural significance of the area finally wins out, and it is preserved. The book also raises questions about land rights and the nature of non-Indigenous settlement in Northern Australia.
Throughout the book there are words in Kriol and Mayali and a glossary is provided at the end that translates these words into English. There are also notes explaining Song Lines and the way Indigenous people from Arnhem Land classify the world. These notes are important to understanding the importance of such concepts to the story.
Leonie Norrington is not Indigenous herself but grew up in a remote Indigenous community, rather like Dale in the Barrumbi books.
Series: Leaving Barrumbi no 3
The Barrumbi Kids book series will be re-imagined as a 10 x 30 minute OzKidsTVdrama. It will have its world premiere on NITV in 2022.
- Scholastic Press Teachers’ Notes for ‘Leaving Barrumbi’ by Leonie Norrington https://resource.scholastic.com.au/resourceFiles/Teacher_Notes/7789121_36673.pdf
- Online presentation by Helen Carlow on ‘Leaving Barrumbi’ by Leonie Norrington https://prezi.com/kxdjgsnsdx7z/leaving-barrumbi/
- ABC News 8 April 2008 ‘‘Leaving Barrumbi’ shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year Award https://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-04-08/norrington-short-listed-for-childrens-book-of- the/2396524
- Leonie Norrington website ‘Writing her books and her passion for gardening’ https://www.leonienorrington.com.au/about
- ABC Life Matters 28 Jan 2013. ‘Leonie Norrington discusses Indigenous literacy’ https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/indigenous-literacy/4483030#
- Screen Australia, ‘NITV and Screen Australia announce children’s series, ‘Barrumbi Kids’ 3 June 2021 https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/sa/media-centre/news/2021/06-03-nitv-screen-australia-barrumbi-kids