Australian’s Indigenous Publisher

Mangabala Books is described by their web page as:

Magabala Books is Australia’s leading Indigenous publisher. Based in the pearling town of Broome in the far north of Western Australia, Magabala Books is one of the most remote publishing houses in the world.

Since its incorporation in 1990, Magabala Books has been recognised as a producer of quality Indigenous Australian literature receiving accolades in prestigious literary and national achievement awards.

Snip20180218_7As one of the most respected small publishing houses in Australia, Magabala Books works to celebrate the talent and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices through the publication of quality literature. Magabala Books has released more than two hundred titles from a range of genres.

Snip20180218_1I thought I’d have a poke around our State Library to see what indigenous publishers they stocked on their shelves. I have been slowly exploring them.  This came up first off and as I checked it out I saw some beautiful children’s books. I noticed that one of them, Mad Magpie, written and illustrated by Gregg Dreise, won the 2017 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year in the Indigenous  Children’s category.  That is an association that was very dear to my heart years ago when I was working and I sat on their national committee as Vice President Finance for several years in the 1990’s.  I remember when the book awards were established by the association but later forgot about those awards in my retirement years and was happily surprised to see it again.  I had to check it out and see what it is about.

Snip20180218_2Mad Magpie is a story about dealing with bullies.

“Way back before Once-Upon-A-Time time, there was the Dreamtime,

and during this period there lived an angry magpie called Guluu.

Guluu was so angry that he would swoop down and peck the other animals on their heads.”

Anyone who is familiar with Australian birds will know that several species of our birds are bullies.  The magpie is known for swooping people who get in its way. This is the story of how the magpie deals with the butcher birds who bully him.


The Butcher birds tease him, they chase him away when he is trying to eat worms on the riverbank. They laugh at him. This makes him very angry.  He thinks if he is angry and tough enough they will leave him alone but they don’t. The other birds in the area, the cockatoos, the Mopoke Owl, the Emu, tell him being mean and angry will not get him what he wants.  He needs to stay calm like the river that roars through the mountains and then is calm again.  He begins to work on becoming calmer, walking away and being strong on the inside like the water’s current. He begins to sing so loudly he can’t hear the taunts of the butcher birds anymore.  Of course it begins to work and the Magpie becomes a happier bird who is no longer bullied. It is a very relevant, timeless tale.

Snip20180218_5The book is beautifully illustrated with Indigenous art and I am sharing a few pages with you. Gregg Dreise has written and illustrated other books for children and I see that Silly Birds won this same award in 2015. I have placed two more of his books on my wishlist at the library and will look at them after I return from my March travels.  I enjoy the stories of the Dreamtime as they explain the Indigenous versions of nature. They are beautiful tales.

Snip20180218_4I will continue to explore this publishing establishment as they have a range of books for children through to adults.  Our library seems to have quite a few of their books.






Saturday Squawk

Snip20180103_2What a week this has been. I have had a quiet week messaging back and forth with photos, information and encouragement with my brother and sister as our mother died. It was peaceful and we are all comforted by the wonderful care she received. She would have turned 92 next month so she had a long life.  We also caught up with many relatives I have not heard from in years and new, younger ones I did not know.  Family deaths tend to do that. That has been lovely.

I spent much of the week reading, with Mr. Penguin, with friends and being comforted, almost too much, by our goofy dogs. They always know when something is going on. I’ve had more face washes this week.

Snip20180210_2The short story I drew in the Deal Me In Challenge (2 of Diamonds) was The Rainmaker from the Tibetan Folk Tales book. The timing of this story was lovely as it is quite a spiritual book of stories in the Buddhist tradition and was a gentle read. Zor is an orphan taken in by a monk for life training. The story told of their life in the cave, with their meals from herbs as rain falls around them. (comforting right?). The old monk is a wise Rainmaker and is able to control the clouds and the weather. At times he is called to the Dalai Lama’s palace to monitor the storms as to protect his beautiful garden. The story revolves around the lessons he teaches to Zor and how Zor copes with his own successes and failures as he inherits this responsibility once the old Lama dies. I enjoyed it immensely.

Snip20180210_5On the other hand, I began the book Lincoln in the Bardo as a Kindle read/audio. It is irritating me beyond belief and I’ll be lucky to finish it. I know, I know. Man Booker prize winner of 2017 and all that. I really should stay away from this prize. I heard a review about how wonderful all the voices were on the audio version. There are around 100 actors reading various parts of the ghosts. For those unfamiliar, it is a story of Abraham Lincoln and his young son Willy who died at a young age. Lincoln in his grief visits him at the cemetery and there are all of the ghosts who live there with their comments. Lots of flashbacks to Willy’s life.

Now, I am not an Arts person. Not overly creative or literaryly (is that a word?)  astute. My talents are in numbers, technology and figuring out those puzzles of the boxes with all the lines and dots and what comes next.  I am very left brained.  I am only seeing mathematical structures in this book.

The structure of the book is composed of categories.  First part in the cemetery- let’s think of as many personality types as possible and give them each a sentence to read. Next part, let’s include as many quotable quotes from every book written about or pertaining to Lincoln.

In describing young Willy, lets get as many people as we can remember names of and tell the reader- What a good boy he was.  He really was a good boy.  Was he a good boy? Yes , such a good boy.

To me, it is as though the author thought of a category and then looked it up on google to find as many entries in that category to include in the book.

So far the category of emotion (again, to me) is missing. I get no gut wrenching feeling that Lincoln lost his young son. I do not feel grief. I am finding the whole thing a bit too clever in its structure and completely lacking in character development.  And I know, perhaps the author smirking because he is so clever.  I only see categories as I read this and find myself wondering- what will the next category be?  I will persevere but you probably won’t catch me writing much more about it.  So if you loved this book, please don’t have a go at me.  I have seen it described as brilliant, a masterpiece and many words in that category.  I mean, The Man Booker Prize Winner for heaven’s sake!!!

Snip20180210_4On another lovely note…yesterday was a beautiful summer’s day and I took the dogs to the beach. We call it the Big Beach as it is bigger than the dog beach we normally go to. As it was a weekday, there was hardly anyone there. The airport runway ends at this beach at a 90 degree angle so the planes were going overhead in front of us as we walked.


One more thing- I thought I’d share this Australian native plant with you. Ptilotus Joey is the name of it. When my father died I set up a little fountain in his memory in the back yard. But the water attracted snakes so I filled it in and put in flowers. I thought I would plant this in my mom’s memory in a large pot next to the fountain. I had never seen this plant before but it was on our garden centre’s Instagram page and I love it so that may be my project for today.


I hope all of you had a good week. Let me know one thing you did this past week.

New Books this Week

Snip20160609_6New books, even if one is second hand, are always a joy to receive and hold. I thought I would share these three with you. I have also included a couple of magazines that are published here in Tasmania that I find interesting.

Here they are:

I saw this, I think, on Simon’s blog (Stuck in a Book) blog. It was published in 1956 and I’m interested to see what books are talked about at that time. Most books I find, that are about books are published closer to the current date. It grabbed my fancy, so to speak. Also it will fill a slot in the Century of Books challenge.




I also read about this book on somebody’s blog. Sorry, but I can never remember where the book reviews I read come from because I read too many.

This book is described as one of the longest running, in print children’s book in Brazil and looks charming. The dust jacket blurb states, ” Meet Zezé – Brazil’s naughtiest and most loveable boy, his talent for mischief matched only by his great kindness.”

This should be fun. I also love the cover of this little book.


The third book is a book I won, in 25 words or less, from the Tasmanian Writer’s Centre and I picked it up yesterday.  I read about it in their newsletter I receive and most likely I was the only person who responded. I have won several books from them this way.

“As children, Ida loves looking after her younger sister, Nora, but when their beloved father dies in 1926, everything changes. The two young girls move in with their grandmother who is particularly encouraging of Nora’s musical talent. Nora eventually follows her dream of a brilliant musical career, while Ida takes a job as a nanny and their lives become quite separate.”

This story interests me because it takes place after 1926, the year my mother was born, and in the Tasmanian bush. It will count towards the Australian Women’s Author challenge.


The final two are Tasmanian published magazines. Island Magazine has been in existence for quite awhile and features many short stories, essays and poetry from writers of this region.

Womankind is locally published and is a ‘new to me’ magazine. It has stories in many different categories. Literature, philosophy, religion, science, etc.  I am not short of any reading material this week.











Jupiter’s Travels by Ted Simon

Snip20180205_1Jupiter’s Travels has been on my shelf for a very long time.  There are many motorcycle “around the world” travel books out there but this is the bible of all of them.

From Wikipedia:

“Ted Simon (born 1931) is a German-born British journalist noted for circumnavigating the world twice by motorcycle.[1] He was raised in London by a German mother and a Romanian father.

After studying chemical engineering at Imperial College he began his newspaper career in Paris with the Continental Daily Mail. Back in England, whilst undertaking National Service with the RAF he founded Scramble, a magazine for recruits, which caught the attention of Arthur Christiansen, redoubtable editor of the Daily Express, and worked in Fleet Street for ten years. He eventually became Features Editor of the Daily Sketch, and shortly before that paper was amalgamated with the Daily Mail in 1964 he left to found and edit a man’s magazine, King, which survived for three years. He moved to France and contributed to various English newspapers and magazines, including The Observer and Nova.

Snip20180205_3In late 1973, sponsored by The Sunday Times, Simon began travelling around the world on a 500 cc Triumph Tiger 100 motorcycle. For four years he travelled over 64,000 miles (103,000 km) through 45 countries. Most accounts from his trip are detailed in his book, Jupiter’s Travels,[2]while some of the book’s gaps are filled in its second part, the book Riding High.[3]

His books and long distance riding inspired the actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman in their 2004 journey from London to New York on motorcycles (Long Way Round), during which they arranged to meet Simon in Mongolia.”

The Book:

I listened to the audio version of this book as well as reading the hard copy. I enjoyed the narration of this book (Ted Simon and Rupert Degas) very much. He started with the African Continent going from north to south. The roads were rugged, the water crossings were fast and deep and he wasn’t probably as prepared as what Charley Borman and Ewan McGregor were. No support vehicles.

From South Africa he took a transport ship to Brazil and immediately was detained by the police for almost two weeks. The. minds games he had to endure were frustrating to read. He was never arrested but you wouldn’t know it.  His bike had all kinds of things go wrong with it but he always managed to fix what it needed and ride on.  Sometimes when he ran out of petrol there was none to be had and he had to ride a bus to a small town just to get a litre.

He then rode to Chili, Peru and Colombia. Colombia was very dangerous in the 1970’s but he managed to get through it in one piece. He made it to the Panama Canal and then didn’t write too much more until he hit California having traversed through Mexico.

He was in California, north of San Francisco in a commune for three months where he worked on the land and had a relationship with a woman.

From San Francisco he took another ship to Sydney, Australia. He went north to Port Douglas and then south to Melbourne and west to Perth, across the Nullarbor.

He wanted to go to Indonesia but because Cyclone Tracy had just devastated the city of Darwin there was no transport. The only transport he could get was from Fremantle to Singapore.

From Singapore to Malaysia and then he went to India. Much of the last third of the book talked about India. Once he left India to head back to Europe he didn’t describe as much in his book.

Snip20180205_8There are many gaps in this book but as Wikipedia explains above he did a follow up book, filling in those gaps, called Riding High.

Mind you for a 64,000 mile journey over four years, it is hard to limit oneself to 460 pages. There was a lot that was left out.

He philosophises a great deal and at times that felt tedious.  It made the overall book quite uneven but it always got back on track. He didn’t describe much of his accommodation but rather focused heavily on the people he met and their lifestyles. It was truly a life changing adventure and I probably don’t do the whole story justice.

I really enjoyed this book. I read a lot of travel writing and this is right up at the top. Every time I got in the car I would listen to more of it. When I woke in the night I would turn it on for the 30 minute sleep timer and listen to more. I was sad when it ended.

Snip20180205_6I must mention the narrators of this story did a brilliant job of the African, Portuguese and Spanish accents. When describing the Australians, the accents were amazingly good. I have lived here 30 years now and still can’t pronounce Australian vowels.  It was good to hear him read his own book and I am not sure how the two men shared the role because I thought there was only one narrator until I looked at the book’s description on Audible.

Snip20180205_4As I started to research more about Ted Simon on google I was pleasantly surprised to see that he did the same journey again 30 years later as a 70 year old man. I have found and ordered the book on Abe Books for $4.00! I don’t think I’ll read Riding High as I have had enough of his first trip. But who knows.

Can’t wait to get Dreaming of Jupiter. He has also recently published another book of his photos. In the 70’s the quality of the photos wasn’t good enough to print but current technology now allows it. The cheapest copy I could find though is $110.00. It is obviously quite collectable.  I won’t be looking at that anytime soon.

If you like travel writing then this wonderful writer (I forgot to mention he is a brilliant writer) tells an excellent tale. No google maps, no mobile phones- travel the old fashioned way.

Saturday Squawk

As one crosses the foot bridge across the Brown River to the dog part of the beach. 

Saturday Squawk is a mish-mash of bits and pieces of the week.  Today after my 8:00 am Aqua Fit class I came home, had breakfast and then the dogs to the dog beach.  Since I always take photos of my own dogs there I decided I would take photos of something else.

Mr. Penguin and I are going to Botswana, Namibia and the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls for 25 days in March.  I wanted to practise taking photos of wildlife with my Canon I own. It has so many settings and I am using the manual settings more and more. I have been in the Hobart Photography Club for two years now.  I thought as we don’t have gazelles or hippos in the area I would practise on some active dogs at the beach.

Dog Beach

I came across an 18 month old Boxer named Rupert who is lovely and extremely energetic.  His kind owners let me use him as a model so I got to practise on the “Tasmania Veldt”.

This guy loved the water.

There were some other interesting things happening there as well so I am here today to share them with you.

A beautiful lurcher. I hardly ever see this breed here.

Enjoy the sunny summer weather of Tasmania.

She was trying to read her book but the dogs were a bit distracting.


Boxer 6
Beautiful Rupert the Boxer. Love the ears.


Boxer 10
Rupert is very stately here.

Australian Women’s Author- 1800’s

Snip20180201_4Excerpt from Australian Dictionary of Biography:

Mary Louisa (Mollie) Skinner (1876-1955), nurse and writer, was born in Perth on 19 September 1876, second child of James Tierney Skinner, army officer, and his wife Jessie Rose Ellen, daughter of George Walpole Leake. The family moved to England and Ireland in 1878 and at 9 Mollie was sent to an academy for young ladies in Edinburgh. A keen student and voracious reader, she had to abandon formal education in 1887 because of an ulcerated cornea. She spent so much time during the next five years in England in a darkened room with her burning eyes bandaged that she thought of herself as the fifth sparrow (Luke 12:6)—’a poor, befeathered, blinded little bird yet still having joyful life, ability to fly, to sing, to preen, to pick up crumbs and drink and to find fellowship with my kind’.

After painful cauterization partially restored her sight, Miss Skinner began to write poems and stories; she also learned singing and cookery. Later she trained as a nurse at the Evelina Hospital for Children, London, and at the Metropolitan Convalescent Home for Children; she recognized within herself an intuitive power, or sixth sense.

Unlike her mother, Mollie was homely: short and sturdy, with thick, dark hair and smoke-blue eyes. She wore sensible clothing and low-heeled shoes. She was intelligent, perceptive and practical, her mind ‘a delight of unexpected treasures among a conglomeration of serviceable items and irrelevant bric-a-brac’. Born with a cleft lip and threatened by blindness, she avoided marriage but found single life hard. She earned her living as a nurse, and wrote for pleasure and money. Both callings were considered ‘common’ by her family.

Continue reading her bio here if interested.

Snip20180201_5This last week the card drawn for the Deal Me In Challenge was the Ace of Spades. The story was a very short story called The Hand and it was written by M L Skinner in 1876. It was a simple tale of a few nurses working in a shed of a hospital in Western Australia one night. The night is dark and one of the nurses walks into a room where something seizes her ankle in a firm grip. She has no idea what has hold of her and of course screams.  When another runs into the room holding a lantern, which of course gets blown out and needs to be relit, it turns out the ‘grip’ is caused by a hand.  A straggler had become lost in the heat, wandered about and in a delirium ended up collapsed in the hospital. The hospital was shaped like the letter L and the back side of it was only under cover, not completely enclosed.  The story, in my opinion was very weak and I am still not sure what its meaning was. Perhaps to show the conditions in this building of which they worked? I have no idea. I would be surprised if this was Ms Skinner’s finest work. I must admit though that it did hold my attention in its sparse four pages.  Maybe it is more about defining a moment in the late 1800’s in rural Western Australia and I did get a feel for the night. A sort of memoir (if it was a true account which kind of felt like it.)

The descriptions were good and I could feel the heat and the dark and see the shaded light caused only by the lanterns available.

I was running behind in the Deal Me In Challenge with getting this story read. On Tuesday, the day I wanted it finished by, I still had not completed it. I had an eye surgeon’s appointment (just a check-up) and thought, “Right! I always need to wait while I get shuttled around in this busy practice and wait for my eyes to dilate. I’ll read it then.”  I looked forward to some forced reading time. I found a quiet area of the waiting room. Opened my book and began the first paragraph. I felt a small wave of peace.  At which time another lady sat beside me and I knew I couldn’t hide from as our arms were practically touching. She is a member of a group I belong to. Of course it would be “HER”. The most talkative, chatty bunch of the entire group and down she sat with a big smile on her face at seeing someone she knew beside her.  The story of my life.  Luckily the story was so short and as her number was called I too got  moved to another area of the practice and managed to finish the story while the photos of my eye were developed.  That is life in Tasmania. You can’t go anywhere without bumping into someone you know.  We are known for it.  Time to draw another card. (In silence, I hope.)Snip20160609_6