South Sudanese parents’ stories for their children in Australia
Illustrated by the children
This project has been supported by Gandel Philanthropy.
In My Kingdom is a wonderful sequel to Donkeys Can’t Fly on Planes. The books have evolved out of years of trust and engagement. The extraordinary illustrations, blazing with creativity, freedom and colour, provide a counterpoint to the more harrowing tales. The very act of telling them transforms hardship into celebration, enduring trauma into courage. The stories reflect the deeper meaning of expression, literally, the act of ‘getting it out’. In this there is potential healing.
In My Kingdom builds on the first collection, yet charts a new direction. It is based on an inspiring idea. The parents tell the tales, and the children respond with brief comments and glorious illustrations. Due to this intergenerational exchange, the children are better able to understand their parents and what they experienced at their age. They come to see the hardships they endured as children, and learn about their traditional ways and demanding lives as farmers and herders.
The stories are told with clarity and integrity, as viewed from the frontline. So much is covered in just forty-three pages. The tales encompass the trials and tribulations of contemporary Africa: the famines and poverty, the impact of war, the pain of loss and displacement. They include accounts of epic treks to a new life, and of years endured in refugee camps. Yet in its colour and scope, and its vibrant presentation, it is infused with a sense of hope and celebration.
There are tales of loyalty, hard work and tales that evoke the enticing waters of the Nile River, stories of transformation and adaptation to new lives, and of profound ‘nostalgia’: literally, the pain of longing for the return.
In My Kingdom is a book of great imagination and courage. It stands alongside the previous book as a testament to the engagement, passion and dedication of the wonderful team of mentors and teachers at Liddiard Road Primary School in Traralgon. It is a wonderful reflection of what is best about contemporary multicultural Australia, and deserves to travel far and wide as an inspiration for similar projects at many other schools and language centres.
– Arnold Zable, acclaimed Australian author, storyteller and human rights advocate.