The journal format of any story has immediate appeal to younger readers, they can relate to it, it’s on their level and therefore it literally ‘talks to them’. I love this one for the same reason I fell in love with literature years ago … its ability to give insight in to periods in history which have had such an impact on those involved.
Anita Heiss’ sensitive portrayal of Mary as she recounts how she arrived at Bomaderry, lived there for five years, then moved to live with a white family in Sydney allows readers to gain an insight in to what life was like.
Mary’s confusion as to why she is no longer with her mum is heartbreaking,
“And Mum, can you tell me something? Do you still love me?”
Writing from a child’s point of view enables Anita Heiss to effectively highlight the ridiculousness of the culture at that time;
“Why does the government tell white people that it’s okay to be nasty to Aborigines, even if they’re good people like me and Dot?”
Mary’s move to the city is where she is really confronted by the prejudice of those around her – she is the only Indigenous child in the school and struggles to understand why she is treated differently.
Mary is befriended by Dot, who takes her under her wing and teaches her about her culture and how to be proud of who she is against the background of the 26th January 1938.
The Diary of Mary Talence is an engaging read, and a must read.
You may also be interested in Stolen Girl, a picture book about the Stolen Generation.
Read My Book Corner’s interview with Anita Heiss.