Stolen girl by Trina Saffioti; illustrated by Norma MacDonald (2011)

[Welcome to my week of Sophisticated Picture Books]

stolen girlIt’s easy to shy away from topics that make us uncomfortable, to forget about the shameful policies that existed in the past. I only recently discovered for example that in New Zealand there was a poll tax imposed on Chinese immigrants that wasn’t repealed until the 1940s.

In Australia the “stolen generation” is a major part of their history. Stolen Girl explains in an introductory note, “From the early 1900s through to the late 1960s, it was government policy in Australia to remove Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.”IMG_1395

Stolen girl tells of a young aboriginal girl taken from her mother to live in a children’s home. There she learns to read and write and is made to cook and clean. Speaking in her native tongue is considered a punishable offense. “She dreams she is a star, shooting through the dark night. ‘Here I am, Mama. I have not forgotten your stories,’ she says as she snuggles closer to her.”

Some of the girls are taken by white families to work for them, a fate our wee heroine is determined to avoid. Finally, very early one morning, when the weather has grown warm, she unlocks the door and leaves.

A powerful story that would be a great class introduction to inequality and race relations.

Check out Stolen girl at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Stolen girl from Fishpond.

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