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May Discussion – Dreamers by Ezekiel Kwaymullina and Sally Morgan

DreamersThere were some differing opinions about this picture book between the Tuesday and Thursday night groups with one group being more responsive to the book than the other. We began by discussing our initial reactions. Some of us were drawn to the book immediately and love the bright and inviting colours and naïve drawings of the children. Others felt that initially they were turned off the book because the pages are too full, hectic and vibrant.

We agreed that visually this is a very busy book. Some commented that they felt that the words and pictures were disparate and that the book really had to be read at least two or three times for meaning: firstly to look at the pictures and then later to absorb the words and connect the two. At times we felt that the pictures were disconnected from the text as it was too much to consider. Others thought that it was a picture book that you appreciated the more you read and deconstructed and this helped them overcome their initial misgivings about the book.

We spent some time analysing the artwork and were curious about ‘modern’ Aboriginal artworks in general. It was felt that whilst this was a work by Indigenous authors and illustrators it was a modern interpretation and we compared it to other works by Sally Morgan which are much more traditional in their scope. It was acknowledged that not all Indigenous artwork is necessarily the same and that the more recognisable dot painting is not reflective of the artwork of every region. The deliberate technique of painting each child a different colour – green, orange, and blue – was recognised as the illustrator’s attempt to signify that we are all children of the world; a theme that is reiterated in the text.

We discussed some of the strategies for the classroom, including talking about the differing meanings of the word ‘dream’, such as the concept of the dream we have at night when we sleep compared to the philosophical meaning ‘to have a dream’ (to aspire and to reach for a goal). This was also related to the importance of ‘the Dreaming’ and ‘the Dreamtime’ in Aboriginal cultures. For language skill development this is also an excellent resource to use to highlight alliteration with examples including river runners and sky sleepers. Play-acting and the strategy of creating an action for each metaphor such as rain jumpers, cloud fliers, sky sleepers and earth swimmers, was also mentioned.