Sunday, January 1, 2012
The Burnt Stick by Anthony Hill
This is Anthony Hill's second book for children and it was extremely well-received, winning the 1995 Australian Christian Literature Award for Children, and being listed as an Honour book in the same year in the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award for Young Readers. It was written and published before there had been much public discussion of the Stolen Generation. It is the story of John Jagamarra, a young Aboriginal boy who was taken from his mother by the Welfare Department and sent to the Fathers at the Pearl Bay Mission. I believe it is a must-read for all young Australians, many of whom could not possibly imagine what it would be like to be suddenly removed from a loving family and placed in a foreign and somewhat sterile environment. Throughout the book, John reminisces about life at tha camp at Dryborough Station and the trick his mum used with the burnt stick to prevent the white men taking him away. She rubbed the charcoal into his skin in order to make John appear darker than his natural colouring. Now this worked twice but then came the dreaded day...
Mark Sofila's soft charcoal drawings are both evocative and confrontational and really show just how traumatic and emotional these forced abductions of the aboriginal children were. Click on the link below to watch Kevin Rudd's apology to "The Stolen Generation"
Here is a brief explanation of what "The Stolen Generation" is all about: