Thursday 8 August 2019

Black Cockatoo

Black Cockatoo was an immediate cover buy for me as soon as I saw it long listed for the CBCA Awards earlier in the year. I'm not having my best reading year and I think that this is the only book I've read from the longlist, and I didn't even make my usual post about all the long listed books. Now it's Book Week and the winners will be announced tomorrow.

Black Cockatoo tells the story of Mia, a thirteen year old girl living with her extended family in a remote Kimberley town. I really wasn't expecting the brutal start. 
The hit came hard, sending the young dirrarn black cockatoo reeling from his roost in the large gum tree. The boy approached cautiously, shanghai dangling from his hand, to inspect his catch. The dirrarn lay sprawled amongst the smaller birds he'd been using as target practice. 
The boy is Mia's older brother. Jy is 15, and loosing his way as many teenage boys do, he's not respecting his elders, or his country. He's killing birds for fun, not going to school. Mia rescues the bird and looks after it in her room. 
Mia let her mind wander to all the places she had dreamt of seeing. No one in her family had ever left the west coast, let alone travelled over oceans. In days past there was no need to, the family had everything they needed on their country. She imagined soaring high above the coastline, red cliffs below, as the waves crashed onto golden shores- even in her imagination she could not fly out over the waves. 
I don't think that I've ever read a book set in a remote Western Australian town like this one. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. I've never even travelled to that area, these are stories and lives I've never encountered. I enjoyed learning more about Aboriginal family constructs. I knew that elder women would be called aunty, and men uncle, and that family is a very inclusive term. But I'd never heard of cousin-sisters and cousin-brothers before. 

I enjoyed the themes of family, country, tradition and freedom. Of course with any story like this the Stolen Generation is never far away. 
Jawiji had met Mia's jaja on the station when they were teenagers. Her family had been rounded up and forced to live there. Jaja rarely talked about the little sister her family had lost when the government and police rounded up the lighter-skinned kids. One the rare occasion she did, the pain was raw in her words and plain across her face. 
Black Cockatoo is as beautiful inside as it is out. Each chapter has a stunning full page illustration by Dub Leffler- an illustrator that I need to see more from. There is a sprinkling of Jaru and Aboriginal English/Kriol words throughout the text as you can see in my quotes, and they have supplied a glossary at the end (although I aways think these should be at the front). I've read a couple of books from Magabala Books  now, they're always impressive, and well worth seeking out.

Wednesday 7 August 2019

Plastic Free July 2019

 230 million people participated in Plastic Free July world wide in 2019! This year I was one of them. I've been working towards being plastic free and reducing waste for a while. I've used reusable grocery bags for ages, long before the changes last year. I've pretty much sorted out the big four. 

I don't drink coffee, so avoiding takeaway coffee cups is easy. I carry my own straw and water bottle. Indeed I have a zero waste kit in my handbag. I've started using cloth serviettes, I love having one in my handbag for when I'm out and about. I even have a couple of those little plastic gelato spoons in there- you never know when you might come across gelato that needs eating. 

Like at Cow and the Moon

I've started buying staples like oats, hemp seeds, chia seeds, dried fruits, nuts etc from my local bulk store. I've bought meat straight into containers from local suppliers. Not that I buy meat very often. So I decided to extend myself for Plastic Free July and look at some things that I was using and try to change things. I've been using more milk recently (something to do with the amazing milk frother that I got for my birthday in June). Milk and dairy products generally come in plastic. You can still buy sour cream in cardboard, and while I like that, I don't buy it all that often. I've stopped buying yoghurt for some time because of the plastic packaging. But I enjoy milk, and cream. I have a couple of local options for both in glass. 

The Little Big Dairy Company are local to me in NSW, and they have most of their products in plastic. But some are also available in glass. The Double Cream is amazing! Expensive, but well worth it, a little goes a long way, and it lasts pretty well. I've taken to having some in the fridge at all times. I've also taken to Non-Homogenised milk in the past few years. They have a small 750ml bottle in glass. It's more than $5 though, so not feasible for families, but ok for me. 

A cheaper option, but one that takes a bit more work is the Single Herd Milk On Tap at Harris Farm. I'd wanted to try this for a while, but was hesitant wondering if it was too fiddly, or if I'd poison myself. I used Plastic Free July to give me the push to give it a go. It isn't too fiddly at all, and I haven't had any troubles with it so far. The shelf life of the milk is shorter (4 days), and it's $3 a litre. I have to organise myself to go early in the day, because they clean the machine in the evening- which is when I tend to do my shopping. So, like much of the plastic free shopping it takes a little bit more organisation, but it's certainly very doable. And I've basically eliminated plastic milk bottles from my house. 

Other products I've tried recently have been compostable dog poo bags from Onya. They hold dog poo very well. 

I've also been using cellulose sponges in the kitchen and am totally in love with Safix Coconut Fibre Scourers and have been giving them to friends and family who love them too. I've been using mine for months, it still looks great, doesn't smell, and I can just put it in the green bin when it finally does wear out. 

I've been trying to make other changes too. I've made suggestions to the cafes at my work on how to reduce plastic packaging. It worked with one, but not the other yet. 

So, all in all I had a pretty good month and great progress was made. I'm not perfect at it, but anyone can decrease their plastic waste with rather little effort. I was devastated to receive a smoothie in a plastic takeaway cup when dining in at a local cafe, and the response of the owner was awful when I pointed this out. I won't be going back until they change. 

You don't need to wait til Plastic Free July to make some changes. Do it today. 

Monday 5 August 2019

Captain Rosalie

I've been meaning to read Timothée de Fombelle for some time. He's probably most famous for his Toby Alone series, about little folk living in trees, which I have in the house somewhere, but it's a big chunky book and I knew I wouldn't get it finished for Paris in July. Captain Rosalie is a delightful little morsel, and I easily read it in July, but then dragged the chain with blogging about it. An illustrated story for older readers, Captain Rosalie is not a picture book in the traditional sense.

Captain Rosalie is a young French girl, 5 and a half years old. Her father is away fighting in the trenches of the First World War. Her mother works at the munitions factory. Rosalie is not yet old enough for school, but her mother has nowhere else to take her, so Rosalie spends her days sitting at the back of the school room drawing pictures in her notebook. Or so it seems. Rosalie has other plans. 
.... I am a soldier on a mission. I am spying on the enemy. I am preparing my plan. 
It is 1917, and every morning the schoolmaster reads aloud progress of the war from the front page of the newspaper. "The master always gives us good news, never bad."
He tells them that they must think of our soldiers who are giving up their youth, their lives. 
At night Rosalie's mother reads her the letters her father has written home from the front line. 

Delightfully illustrated by French Canadian Isabelle Arsenault, who makes the most of Rosalie's flame red hair. It was initially published in French in 2014, and in English in 2018. 

Timothée de Fombelle talking about Captain Rosalie
(in French)