Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Review: Shake A Leg
Boori Monty Pryor and Jan Ormerod / Allen & Unwin 2011 RRP: $24.99
Boori Monty Pryor is a stellar storyteller. I’ve seen him in action wowing young people and adults alike at schools, libraries, community events and major literary festivals. There’s no surprise at all that his most recent book Shake A Leg – with lively illustrations by the talented Jan Ormerod – was named the 2011 Winner (Children’s Fiction) in the prestigious Prime Minister’s Awards.
Inspired by members of his own family, Boori - who hails from Northern Queensland and the Birrigubba and Kungganji nations - has cleverly woven his ancient traditions, culture and stories in a modern day yarn.
Through the story of three young fellas hunting for pizza we get an insight into contemporary Aboriginal life. It’s a place where Blackfellas speak Italian (in fact, they go to Italy which takes the meaning of ‘going walkabout’ to a whole new level). Where Murris are chefs, nurses and sound engineers. Where crocodile pizza is washed down with milkshakes (now that’s what I call culinary fusion). Where the busy street acts as the bora ring today. And where people can live in cities and still respect and value thousands of years of culture.
Teachers often ask me about titles for use in the classroom, especially in relation to discussing Aboriginal identity. Shake A Leg is perfect for that in-class engagement and it even comes with teachers’ notes, so half the work is done already.