Sorry Day by Coral Vass

Published: 1st May 2018Goodreads badge
National Library of Australia
Illustrator: Dub Leffler
Pages: 34
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Sorry Day acknowledges the past and shows a willingness to make things right. The story commemorates both the momentous speech made by the Prime Minister of Australia to say sorry to the indigenous people for past abuse and to also recognise the decades of abuse suffered by the Stolen Generation. Told through the eyes of a young girl participating in the ceremony today and, in sepia colours, the eyes of the stolen children in the past.

The anniversary of the apology is actually in February but it is recognised in May as part of National Sorry Day, a day first held on 26 May, 1998. In 2008 then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave the apology that indigenous people had been rightly asking for for years, the one that apologised to the stolen generation for the way they had been treated by the government for decades.

I remember vividly watching this on TV, I cried then and I cried now. This is a remarkable book as it celebrates the momentous speech by Kevin Rudd but it also shows the past and the horrors indigenous people had to endure. Vass uses Rudd’s real words and she weaves it into this young girl’s story, not quite understanding the impact, but we see it through her mum and the adults around her.

As one story unfolds about that wonderful February day, it is shadowed by the realities of the history those words represent. The contrast from page to page is a stark reminder and a beautifully heartbreaking juxtaposition about the two eras, and what the importance of the speech means. In the present a young girl loses the hand of her mother and is lost momentarily in the crowd, in the past, young children lose their parents forever.

I loved that each page threw up into a different time in history. From the lawns of Canberra, to the creeks where children hide in terror, then back to watching the speech. It is such a powerful move to bring the voices of the past into the present.

Leffler uses colour to show the differences between eras, colours for the present, with sepia depicting the past. The images are vivid and emotive and coupled with Vass’ words and my own understanding of history, it is incredibly clever to see these two moments side by side.

What I found interesting was the information included at the back about the history from the stolen generation to Prime Minster Keating in the 90s to Rudd in 2008. As I said, Sorry Day is recognised every single year and it is important that people acknowledge and understand what it means.

More people need to remember this speech, remember the impact it had, but also remember why it needed to be said in the first place and wonder just why it took so long to be said. This is the ideal book to tell the story in an impactful yet gentle way and it is certainly one that can spark great discussions.

You can purchase Sorry Day via the following


 WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon Aust

Jasper & Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle by Kevin Rudd and Rhys Muldoon

Published: 1st October 2010Goodreads badge
 Allen and Unwin
Illustrator: Carla Zapel
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

It was a special day at the Lodge. There was going to be a party. A big party. Abby the dog was there. Jasper the cat was there. But so was a scruffy little dog. The Prime Minister receives many letters and emails from children asking about Jasper and Abby, and he often tells his friends, colleagues, and staff stories of the antics of his family pets.

With Australia Day tomorrow I thought I would review a fun picture book all about our national day. This book was written by one of our Prime Minsters many years ago and it is inspired by the PM’s own cat and dog who lived in the Lodge with him. The book is co-authored by Rhys Muldoon and together they have created an enjoyable adventure about an important party and a slight kerfuffle.

With the premise of an Australia Day party at the PM’s house, the story manages to celebrate some wonderful things about our nation without going full Australian in our face either. There is a wonderful celebration of the resources of our nation and in a style that reminded me briefly of Possum Magic, they are listed with alliteration and short sentences that show off our produce, not to mention the wonderful regions around our country. All of this works within the story and the narrative is not pushed aside to just start listing great things about Australia nor is it overly simplified.

Jasper and Abby are the definite heroes of the story, and there are a few liberties taken in their understanding and capabilities. But they are still animals, talking to one another but not talking to the people.

Zapel’s illustrations are realistic and you can even see real pictures of Jasper and Abby at the fron of the book and see the resemblance. There is a lot of great detail in the fine line drawings, and I really loved how active all of the people appear to be. Kids aren’t standing straight, they are hanging off parents, and animals are mid scratch on chairs. It’s the small details like that which made me really focus on the pictures because it brought everything alive.

With short sentences often for each action or person there is a chance at a matching illustration so the mix of full page, double page and multiple small illustrations suit this story incredibly well because not only does it suit the action, but it allows a lot more to be visually explored than simply selecting a single scene.

I quite liked this story, I had forgotten that Rudd had even written it until I came across it at work. I’m glad I have read it now. This is a fun story filled with drama and chaos, and honestly a bit of suspense and tension too as you wonder will the culprit be caught before anything else goes wrong.

You can purchase Jasper & Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust