BOOKS

Amber Flohm

I’m Australian Too

By Mem Fox, Illustrations by Ronojoy Ghosh

Scholastic Australia, 2017

I’m Australian Too is Mem Fox’s latest children’s book and displays her at her very best.

It provides a wonderful example of Australia’s richly diverse tapestry, captured through beautiful rhythm, rhyme and illustration for teachers and students alike to discover and explore Australia’s multiculturalism.

Our first peoples take pride of place and offer to “share the place with you”, while migrants from Ireland, Italy, Greece, England, Lebanon, Vietnam, China, Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria, are celebrated and valued too.

There are endless opportunities for teachers and students to explore themes, both explicit and implicit, for further discussion. From rich Indigenous beginnings to the history of Australian immigration patterns and finally, reference to today’s refugees “not (being) Australian yet” should ensure all children and their teachers grow to love this book.

The book’s illustrations enhance this beautiful story and cheekily allude to a number of political nuances. The story concludes with images and words about the importance of Australia’s multicultural fabric, messages so often not espoused in the current political climate.

This is a must-read for every primary school classroom and/or library.

Stepping Stones — A Refugee Family’s Journey

By Margriet Ruurs, artwork by Nizar Ali Badr

Orca, 2016

Stepping Stones is an amazing children’s story told in two languages, Arabic and English, by award-winning Canadian children’s author, Margriet Ruurs. The tale is told through the eyes of a Syrian child who is forced to leave her home and everything she treasures when war arrives in her village.

Themes of family, freedom, hope and belonging are central to the story and the new community’s embrace of the family is a welcome resolution to the refugees’ arduous journey.

Perhaps the most extraordinary feature of Stepping Stones is the artwork that accompanies the narrative by Nizar Ali Badr, a Syrian artist. Each page comes to life as the images are created through stone sculptures depicting the family’s journey.

Proceeds from the sale of each of these books will go to a charity assisting refugees, and links to Australian organisations (including Federation’s affiliate, the Refugee Council of Australia) are in the book for those wanting to assist refugees and make a difference in these children’s lives.

A wonderful arrival into primary classrooms and school libraries, just in time for Refugee Week 2017 (18 – 24 June).

Amber Flohm is a City Organiser and Multicultural Officer