“I couldn’t tell them I wanted to be white then. But if I was white I’d see myself everywhere. In the classroom, when I opened up a book or looked at a picture. In the crowded playground, laughing, skipping and jumping between elastics. Down the main street in town. Or on the movie screen. I’d not stand out from the rest. But … Black? Too hard. Too ugly. Too different.”
It’s every child’s worst nightmare – to be different, picked on by the other kids at school, out of place. It leads so many children to change themselves, pretend to be like everyone else, hide their differences.
But what if you can’t hide the thing that makes you different? What if its the colour of your skin? And what if being picked on and singled out continues beyond the school years and throughout adulthood?
This is the experience of Sunny and her sister, Star, raised by their Nan and Aunties, who are constantly on the alert; cautious of the police who may come to take the children away, all too aware of how easy it might be to loose everything simply due to prejudice and bigotry.
There was so much to love about this story (despite my somewhat depressing opening here) :); the fantastic relationship between Sunny and her Nan and Aunties; and Petal, the mother who comes and goes, and behaves more like a teenage sister than a mother, most times. Reading this story was like listening to my grandparents yarn about the old days, and as with them I learnt a bit of history while I was at it, including the shameful ‘forgetting’ of two Aboriginal men; Yarri and Jacky-Jacky, who saved residents of Gundagai during a heavy flood, and received absolutely no reward or recognition for it, while the ‘Dog on the Tuckerbox’ has a statue all his own.