#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Books Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Freedom Fighters, Thinkers, and Heroes

"British invasion and settlement caused upheaval for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but the heroes, rebels and innovators featured in this book still held on to their dreams. What dreams will you turn into reality?"

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading theme throughout the year, when we can.

This year, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized

Heroes, Rebels, And Innovators: Inspiring Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander People From History (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Karen Wyld Illustrated by Jaelyn Biumaiwai
Published by: Lothian Children’s Books (2021) ISBN: 073441983X (ISBN13: 9780734419835) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

A few weeks back, I shared First Nations stories from Australia here after realizing belatedly that I have not featured any books from Australia for our current reading theme on #DecolonizeBookshelves2022. Featuring this book is another attempt to rectify that oversight.

There are seven Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people featured in this book – most are fearless freedom fighters, forgotten thinkers, heroes and rebels in the country known now as Australia.

One of the first things that struck me is this story of Patyegarang, who learned the language of the colonizer and taught British Lieutenant William Dawes the Darug language.

Interestingly, the book cover showed a more modest version of Patyegarang’s profile – even as the inner pages showed her in her naked-breasted glory. This made me wonder about the politics of book production, marketing, and publishing that still effectively attempts to diminish the full glory and beauty of First Nations people.

Mohara Wacandu-Lifu also caught my eye – the fierce swimmer who carried and saved two sailors from a cyclone. The image of her carrying two grown White men on her back is a symbol of everything that First Nations women have experienced and continue to struggle with ever since the White men claimed to have “discovered” the cities they have shamelessly plundered and conquered.

While I would have wanted more stunning illustrations from Biumaiwai, this is a good primer to know more about people from Australia’s history who have resisted settlers and colonizers and saved them from natural disasters because of their folly and weaknesses. It is a book that needs to find its way into more bookshelves around the world.


#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 62 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Freedom Fighters, Thinkers, and Heroes

  1. Pingback: [Nonfiction Wednesday – My 2022 in Books] Favourite Nonfiction Titles Read in 2022 – Gathering Books

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