Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Book Review, You and Me: Our Place

You and Me: Our Place Book ReviewI was first attracted to this children's picture book by the quality of the art work. There is so much life, colour and movement in Dee Huxley's pastel and coloured pencil drawings. You can almost hear the squeak of the sand under Uncle Tobias's tyres as he cycles along the sand.

You and Me: Our Place was written by Leonie Norrington and published by Working Title Press (Australia) in 2007. The quality of the text is as high as the artwork, and they complement each other beautifully.

The two young boys narrating the story give us an insight into both life in the olden days as it was for Uncle Tobias, and life nowadays for them. They seem to be part of a big extended family that spends a lot of time at the beach, fishing and looking for bush tucker. Much of what we learn in the story is understated, little glimpses into another's life.

I enjoyed many details of description in the story, a basket that "smells of salt and darkness", "flicky prawns in the net", Slim Dusty songs "on a three-stringed guitar." They instantly transported me to a fish feed I'd shared with Aboriginal friends near the Tweed River. It's wonderful when a children's picture can be so evocative of a time and place, that it allow us as readers to stand in another's footprints.

You and Me: Our Place would make an excellent resource for children studying multiculturalism. Kids could reflect on how lucky our generation is to be able to celebrate such cultural diversity. The book would lead very naturally to an investigation into bush tucker, what foods we eat that we find for ourselves rather than in the supermarket. Kids could try to identify the different marine creatures in the book or research mangrove habitats. The illustrations might spark an investigation into drawing with pastels and coloured pencils.

BOOK CHOOK ALERT: If your kids are interested in writing, take a look at this cool contest at author, Kim Chatel's site . Write a poem and draw a picture to win a music box and t-shirt made by this talented writer and artist. Contest ends January 31.


  1. Great thoughts on the subject of cultural literacy. What a great way to share with kids some thoughts on how other people grow up and live, describing some of their traditions and customs. When children are exposed to these things in stories, they are all the more reinforced when they encounter them in real life. And if I may say so, your descriptions of the descriptions are poetic in and of themselves. Nicely done.

  2. This sounds like an excellent book for my cultural integration groups. I could suggest they read this with their kids...excellent benefits for both English and cultural awareness skills. Thanks, I'll be sure to refer and to link in my next post.

  3. I do so agree with you, Fred. I think all the arts - literature, drama, theatre, paintings, dance, sculpture, poetry, whatever - are important to allow us to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. Once we do that, I believe tolerance follows. We don't always get the chance to relate to people from all walks of life, from different cultures or countries, but we can make that connection through the arts.

  4. Ms Lucy, I would be so interested in what your ESL students think of this quintessentially Australian book. Having said that, I suspect they will be able to relate to the collide and slide of different cultures.

  5. The cover is just beautiful, even in miniature. Thank you for letting us "stand in another's footsteps" as you told us the story. Thanks for the note about this book, too. I will definitely add it to my reading list.

  6. Sorry for interrupting but ...

    I have just been doing some housekeeping (of my blog of course) and for some reason you are NOT on my blogroll. I thought you were and that you hadn't blogged for a while.

    Apologies! I think the husband must have accidently dismissed you. I have chastised him and you are now back on.

    Laura x

  7. Thanks for visiting, Terry! I look forward to reading your reaction as no way can I ever do these wonderful books justice.

  8. Hi Laura! Blog housekeeping is so much more fun than chasing dust bunnies, I agree. I try to post several times a week, but I sure don't vacuum that often!


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