[DiverseKidLit] The Home of History and Cultural Interconnectedness in Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins’ “My Place”

Myra here.

Our theme for today’s Diverse Children’s Books linkup is Favorite International Book(s) for Children. Share your favorite book or books that take place in a different country than where you live! (The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

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We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, September 3rd and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Themes

Our theme for the current linkup is Favorite International Book(s) for Children. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

  • September 3rd linkup: Diverse Book(s) Featuring a Character with a Disability. (Need ideas? Check out past winners of the Schneider Family Book Awards.)
  • September 17th linkup: Favorite Bilingual Book(s). Think about your favorite book or books that are published in bilingual (or multiple language) editions.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit is Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set Outside of the United States (By Continent) from Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers. They each share a favorite book from the five populated continents, excluding North America.

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As we ponder on the various meanings of home and refuge and our constant journeyings through life for this reading theme, I am glad to find this book in my shelves, waiting for this exact moment when it needs to be featured. I must have bought this in one of the book sales here in Singapore, and such a rare title too. It’s not even available any longer in our public libraries.


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My Place

Story by: Nadia Wheatley Illustrated by: Donna Rawlins
Published by: Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 1989 ISBN: 0916291545 (ISBN13: 9780916291549) Book Awards: Children’s Book Council of Australia Award for Eve Pownall Award for Information Books & Book of the Year: Younger Readers (1988)
Personal copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

Think of this book as a time machine of sorts. While the first page opens to 1988, the second page takes the reader to 1978, and so on until one gets to 1788.

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It is a clever way of showing Australia’s history in ten-year periods, through snapshots told from the perspective of different children living in the same place and how it has evolved through the years, except that it shows the story backwards. Since this book was published in 1989, that explains why the first page is set in 1988. Even then, it’s amazing to see just how multicultural Australia already was:

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The above is a close up of the young child’s map of her place. Pay close attention to the Lebanese takeaway, the Vietnamese cafe, the Greek Deli, the Thai restaurant. Now this same place is depicted to be someone else’s place at another point in time:

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Over the years, the reader sees families from Greece, Ireland, California, Germany – among others. One sees young men being sent off to war, or arriving from war in crutches, their hair shaven. As one moves backwards in time, the landscape also changes:

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The amazing thing here is seeing how people who are perceived as foreigners or outsiders today, have always been in this place, calling it “my place” as far back as a hundred years. Yet while most have been perceived as “savages” or outsiders then, this sense of exclusion may still be mirrored at the present time, although, of course, we would like to think that things have changed for the better.

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My favourite, of course, is the year 1788 when the reader gets introduced to Barangaroo. As he noted:

I belong to this place. We’re staying here for the summer, at the creek camp, to get the fish down in the bay. But often we stay a while at other places. Everywhere we go is home.

I find that last line to be quite powerful. I wonder how our own way of life will be depicted ten years from now. The story ends with a conversation between Barangaroo and his grandmother:

My grandmother says, ‘We’ve always belonged to this place.’

‘But how long?’ I ask. ‘And how far?’

My grandmother says, ‘For ever and ever.’

This is a book that you need to experience for yourself. Let me know how the time travel goes for you.

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#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Katie @ The Logonauts
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Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

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5 Comments on [DiverseKidLit] The Home of History and Cultural Interconnectedness in Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins’ “My Place”

  1. Australia really produces some fantastic children’s books! “Home” is such a complex word, which can mean so many different things at different times in our lives.

    Like

  2. I love how you highlight books that are so unique and special. Thank you for sharing this book about HOME.

    Like

  3. Wow! What an incredible book to show the idea of “ours” has a long, long history indeed. Can’t wait to check this book out. #diversekidlit

    Like

  4. *Update. Not available in our library, so I think I’m going to order a used copy online. Thanks for the heads up!

    Like

  5. What a clever way to engage with history – and so interesting to know that this kind of book was being produced in Australia in the 1980s. I think there may just be a run on second-hand copies 🙂 Is it still in print, I wonder?

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