All posts for the month April, 2012

“Am I Black Enough For You?” Review: Review

Published April 25, 2012 by electricbluegaloo

Michael McGirr, April 21-22 2012: Challenging the belief that Aboriginal stories are all sad, SMH Spectrum, p. 30

What a fantastic title for a review of Anita Heiss’ memoir, because there are a heck of a lot of depressing movies and books out there. The review started by pointing out the obvious strengths of Heiss’ career and contribution to Australian literature, but hit a sour note with a beguiling comment about the nasty Bolt business last year. I read the comment several times and quote below for your benefit:

“Bolt wrote things Heiss found hurtful and insulting, not least because, as she argues here, they were untrue”.

What is it about this seemly benign sentence that has left such a bitter taste in my mouth?

Bolt’s comments not only insulted Anita Heiss, they insulted the entire nation. There have been certain programs and entitlements put into place that go some small way to repairing the damage that has been done to generations of Indigenous men and women, elders, adults and children. Anita Heiss is Aboriginal, was, is and always will be. However, that is not the point. The claims that Bolt made were UNTRUE! By stating only that Anita was “hurt and insulted” by these comments, and using the qualifying statement that “she argues” that they are untrue undermines the dignity which Heiss maintained through the ordeal, and that Bolt publicly made untrue statements. Though she is Aboriginal, the “plum” positions she has held have been the result of hard work, persistence and the giving up of her own time as an unpaid volunteer. For more details and a typically eloquent explanation please read ANITA HEISS’ STATEMENT ON EATOCK VS HWT .

The review then goes on to further Bolt-like ignorance by questioning her relationship with her parents. Should Anita consider herself Austrian rather than Aboriginal because she was close with her father? What the reviewer seems to forget is that genetic background is but one aspect of an individual’s identity. Spoiler alert! She is also a woman, who grew from girl. She is entitled to have a close relationship with her father and still consider herself indigenous. Anita Heiss should write her next memoir entitled “Am I Female Enough for You?”, because while I am not indigenous myself, Anita Heiss is an inspiration to me as a woman.

As I read over the review again I wonder if the title is not ironic. I get the sense that Michael McGirr wants to be positive but the review is underwritten by a genuine lack of understanding of the historical and contemporary experiences of Aboriginal Australians. It is sad that McGirr likens consumerism to Catholicism. I can only shake my head. Let me explain: Harrods and Grace Bros. did not send sales assistants to Aboriginal communities in order to train the youth for servitude, etc, etc, etc. For further information on what shops did not do, but representatives of churches of all denominations did do read any number of sources, including The Bringing Them Home Report (1997) .

Anita made a comment on Facebook last year about a book that was poorly reviewed (please see previous post for more detailed discussion of review responsibilities). Sorry to say this review suffers from the same failings. While the review concludes thus:

“Her writing makes amiable and life-affirming company”

overall it just goes to show how little the majority of non-Indigenous Australians really understand about our own history, and why this is such an essential un-sad story for us all to read.


Youth Reviews Book Week

Published April 23, 2012 by electricbluegaloo



This year we are extending our successful videoconference event to primary schools. We thank the staff at Caddie’s Creek Primary school who have volunteered to be the first to host this event. To widen the audience even further, you can invite nearby private schools to visit and join in. CBCA NSW will supply an award winning writer or illustrator to appear and discuss the texts.

This has proved to be a great way for students to be involved in the excitement of the CBCA Book of the Year Awards announcement for fiction. Students from remote NSW areas will once again join students via the schools of Distance Education with students in Sydney by a live video link, to present their responses to the shortlist. This real time videoconference will include the announcement of the winner and honour books awards as they are placed on the national website at 12 noon. We also thank Judith Ridge, the Western Sydney Young Peoples’ Literature Officer with WestWords who is hosting the videoconference at a western Sydney high school and funding a guest writer.

Any number of students at schools may watch, listen or register to join in with questions or comments.

Go to then click on “connections”, then “upcoming excursions” then “free excursions” and scroll down to 17 August to bring up the CBCA Book of the Year event notices. Scroll down to fill in the ‘Book Now’ form to register your students to participate. See more information on the Connections page by clicking on “schools”

To watch the event, any school can connect via Web Stream and then selecting the presentation from the “Featured Channels”.

Information Literacy Through Literature

Published April 18, 2012 by electricbluegaloo

Part of information literacy is being able to identify the reliability of the information given what you know about the source.

Take one comment and discuss how this information could be construed as reliable or unreliable based on who said it.


How would you view a fact about a magical creature if it was told to you by one of the following characters. Explain you response for each character in a paragraph stating your reason.




An unknown witch or wizard from the 3 Broomsticks


How would you view a fact about vampires if it was told to you by one of the following characters. Explain you response for each character in a paragraph stating your reason.




An unknown customer at the camping supply store that Bella works at.

Your readers’ challenge is to think of a more engaging/interesting way of having the students present their response during a 1 hour session.

Have the students discuss the final character in relation to doing a “google” search and how to identify more reliable sources.

Hooray For The Hunger Games

Published April 18, 2012 by electricbluegaloo

I finally got a chance to see The Hunger Games, and it was BRILLIANT, but I’m sure you already know that.  If I didn’t have so much uni work to catch up on I would have gone back to watch the next viewing.  Apart from the fantastic storyline (not entirely original see:, but made excellent use of universal themes), the fantabulous costumes and sets (Lush! I wanna live in the Capital) and the fantastic direction by Gary Ross, it was the acting that really made this movie special. Of course I can’t go past Jennifer Lawrence who is spectacular as Katniss Everdeen, but I also have to mention former Natural Born Killer Woody Harrelson, who was completely perfect in the role of Haymitch, the drunken mentor to Katniss and Peter.

As for the  Harry Potter movies, the makers of The Hunger Games have very cleverly conveyed so much of the meaning through the costumes, sets and homage to a particular bygone era.  If I was planning to “reap” the experience by analysing it in class I would recommend exploring the implied meaning through researching anything and everything about the 1920s/30s for The Hunger Games and the 1930s/40s for Harry Potter.

I’m learning about information literacy and Project Based Learning at the moment, which involves students creating their own questions and sharing their findings with the rest of the class.  If you teach kids you know they listen to their peers more than any adult in their life, so it makes sense to do it this way.

How exciting to know there is a young female in a film adaptation of a YA phenomenem that can actually manage to convey an emotional range beyond that of a popcile.  I know I have defended Twilight on this blog before, but watching The Hunger Games showed that tosh for just what it is, mindless, silly escapism.  Now that I have seen The Hunger Games, the thought of going back and watching the last Twilight movie seems a bit of a chore.  Ho hum, at least there is only one to go.

Published April 12, 2012 by electricbluegaloo

I am desperate to see the Hunger Games, not just because my hideous cousins were disscussing it in detail right in front of me while I was TRYING to finish my assignment. Not just because of the massive publicity and hype surrounding the film, but mostly because of the following review. While the review here is of the book rather than the movie I have discovered something about myself: I like to see the movie first. I saw Harry Potter before I read it, I saw the BBC mini-series before I read The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe (rumoured to be appearing at the Powerhouse museum, Sydney soon) and of course the dearly beloved Twilight Saga caught my attention, well . . . basically when Jacob ripped his shirt off. And to add to that record I also had to see about 6 different interpretations before I connected with Pride and Prejudice. Who knows what will spark the connection, oh ye teachers who write, and writers who teach.

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