Young Dark Emu. A truer history by Bruce Pascoe


Published by: Magabala Books, June 2019

Price: $24.99

The book, Dark Emu, received an array of awards for the hard truth that was told between the pages of Australia’s dark history. Most people who read this book were amazed at the mistruths that we had been told in history lessons at schools, in museums around our nation and most published books.

Since this book has been released there has been a gradual humming in the air for the need to share this truth. Australia Aboriginal people did cultivate the land, they did have permanent housing, they understood and cared for the environment and they were an important part of this land.

Bruce Pascoe has now released a junior version of Dark Emu – Young Dark Emu. A truer history.

This book is written with younger readers in mind. It includes many images that match in with the facts and add more information for younger readers to wonder about.

The book is grouped into different learning areas that can be focussed on. There are chapters that focus on the different states of Australia and how the Indigenous Australians lived.

Another focuses on food production and the devastating effects sheep had on the land.

Aquaculture is explained and the expansive Brewarrina fish traps are described and shown in photography.

Food storage, the importance of fire and sacred places are discussed in words that young people can relate to and understand.

The final chapter should leave a resonating sound in any reader – that is of the possibility of a sustainable future.

Australia needs to work towards growing more crops that are adapted to the harsh and dry Australian landscape. These crops will solve our water issues and soil degradation problems that we currently have. We need to ask our government to do more about this if we want a better future for all. We need to know that the land can give us what we need if we treat it well and learn from the traditional custodians of the land.

So what can you do with this book?

  • There are media notes for Young Dark Emu. A Truer history and these contain 11 dot points that summarise issues in the book. Use these dot points as discussion starters for a whole class lesson. Once students have read their discussion point, ask them to search through current library resources that confirm or deny this fact. Justify why this viewpoint has been held for so long. Explain why this viewpoint needs to change.

  • Create a way to share this information with other children your own age so they understand the real history of Australia.


The day we built the bridge by Samantha Tidy and Fiona Burrows

The first thing that you will notice in this picture book are the end pages, adorned with Australian native flowers – Gum blossoms, Wattle and Geraldton Wax flowers.

The day we built the bridge by Samantha Tidy and Fiona Burrows is a beautifully illustrated picture book that allows younger readers to explore this important timeline of Australian history.

Fitting in perfectly with any Australian history lesson, this book has a key focus around Sydney’s need for the harbour bridge. We see the journey from the bridges inception in the 1890’s until the day it was finished and celebrated in 1932.

As a key icon of Australia, many of us may not know how much thought and how much time it took for this bridge to be built. It is something we see all time time in either our passing over it or viewing it on commercials about Australia. It’s connection is not only that of two land masses but also of a community that wanted more.

The pictures in this book tell just as much of a story as the words do, and together they create a magical book that takes you back in time to a place that Sydney was.

The day we built the bridge is an excellent way for children to see the time it took for the bridge to be built and the other things that were going on whilst this all was happening. It allows them to see what children did, how families worked together and the day to day life of Australians through the war and times where money was scarce.

Stunning illustrations and poignant words will bring you back to this book again and again. It is one to share in the classroom and at home.

So what else can you do with this book?


Write down different words that you associate with commemorative events in Australia. Why is the building of the bridge so important? Are there other events just as important? Can we rank these events?

Use to explore images and newspaper articles from this time in Sydney and make comparisons to bg events of today.

Research how bridges were made then and how they are made now – are there any differences?

Create a timeline in your own space of the events that took place in the lead up to the bridge being created. What else can you add?

If the bridge was a different design, how might Sydney look or feel?