Shake A Leg created by Boori Monty Pryor and Jan Ormerod is an entertaining and educating read – a must have.
The premise of the story is three hungry boys entering a pizza shop in North Queensland. The boys are surprised to learn that a) the pizza maker speaks Italian and b) he is an Aboriginal, Murri. As he cooks them their pizza, tales are interwoven in to his conversation with them – a story about a crocodile before serving up the same meat on their pizza, a story about the bee whilst they are drinking the milkshakes blended with delicious honey. The bee story ends with the dance, called shake a leg – prompting a call to his family to come over and help him teach this to the boys.
Monty’s wry sense of humour is evident throughout;
“A mobile is much better than a smoke signal on a windy day, eh?”
and here, I believe, is the essence of this book – showing the boys, and the audience -how the old cultural traditions can blend in to the modern way of life. The family supports each other, teaches each other, they share the traditions of cooking and they each have their own roles.
Jan Ormerod has styled this book in the vision of a graphic novel – this is the ideal vehicle for this book and its messages – the key focus is on the words and the voices, reflecting their historical importance in passing on traditions and knowledge.
The illustrations accompanying the stories and the dancing in particular are beautifully drawn in a style distinct from those set in the pizza store, great for helping children follow the progress of the story. I loved the gorgeous blue of the night sky with the “stories swirling in the stars above,” simply beautiful.
This is a great picture book to be read out loud, it will also be great for older readers to enjoy on their own.