Our Stories, a new early reader series, is a celebration of Australia’s rich and diverse culture and acknowledges the First Nation’s lands. Large spaced-out print, plenty of illustrations and short chapters make these highly accessible stories that are perfect for sharing together. The first two books in the series, Maku, and When Granny Came to Stay, are released simultaneously with two further titles due out in August.
Maku, ‘You say it like mug: the cup you drink tea out of and coo: the sound an owl makes’, loves watching superhero movies, imagines starring as the hero in one and even has dreams of directing his own smash hit blockbuster. Then his new third grade teacher challenges him to come up with a plot for his movie. But where to begin? Pop and Nan, with their wonderful stories about the Rainbow Serpent and the Great Emu, soon provide some inspiration…
Granny has come to stay and it isn’t looking good. She has taken over Pangzi’s bedroom, smells weird, cooks strange food, doesn’t drive and has never heard of the most popular toy in school. Could things get any worse? But when it is time for Granny to return to China perhaps having her around was not so bad and she will be missed after all…
Relatable situations and the challenges of everyday life such as fitting in at school, making friends and visiting relatives along with likeable characters will all appeal to a young audience. Whilst both stories are wildly different, what both Maku and Pangzi have in their lives are adults who care about them and who are keen for the younger generations to learn about their heritage and to embrace it; Maku learning about stories, ceremonies and the Stolen Generation, Pangzi learning about China, Chinese fries and how to make Granny’s decorative spinning top - which is far better than a Destroyer Disc.
Embracing inclusion and diversity, these short and sweet stories will be enjoyed by many young children and encourage conversations around the themes of valuing and respecting everyone, treating others fairly, bullying, displacement, family, belonging and identify.
If we want children to grow up with an understanding of and a willingness to acknowledge and embrace their culture and heritage then they need stories like these that begin to educate and inform. The authors have lovingly wrapped up beliefs, traditions, customs and values into the most delightful and accessible of little packages.
With huge thanks to Pan Macmillan for the copies I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 4+.