Title: Common Wealth
Author: Gregg Dreise
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: 1st May 2021
Synopsis: A picture book for mature readers
- From multi award-winning author and artist, Greg Dreise – a proud descendant of the Kamilaroi and Euahlayi people
- Valuable resource for discussion about the importance of moving forward together as a nation, with truth and respect for our history and Traditional Custodians
- Timely themes for National Sorry Day (26 May 2021) and NAIDOC Week
- Themes: Indigenous history; Australian history; Australia Day; Australian anthem; unity; community
All that I’m wishing,
Is that you take a moment to listen . . . You see, I’m on a mission,
to spread unity – not division.
A slam poetry persuasive and powerful vision of unity from award-winning Indigenous creator Gregg Dreise. Passionate, yet peaceful, Common Wealth is a compelling plea for a future of truth, togetherness and respect for our nation’s deep history.
Contains some confronting images.
Kamilaroi and Euahlayi man, Gregg Dreise’s new book, Common Wealth is told in verse – slam poetry – to start a discussion about reconciliation, and coming together as a nation. It speaks to doing away with division and working together and acknowledging the truth behind our history, and all of our history beginning 60,000 years ago.
It uses the words of the national anthem – and Gregg points out which ones he likes, and what they mean to him so beautifully, and he explores the darker history that we are often not taught, that we need to dig for and uncover. A history that we should be aware of so we can come together as a nation. At its heart, this lovely poetry book is about unity of a nation and equality for all – speaking to the sense that we are all human, that we all deserve human rights. We may look different outside, but we all know what it is to be human and to want to understand each other.
Using poetry, and exquisite illustrations in a delightful Indigenous style, this book for older readers can act as an educational resource, to begin conversations or supplement history lessons, or to be used as an example of persuasive writing in English or similar subjects. It has a sense of let’s come together which I loved – this gently persuasive sentiment will open up avenues of discussion for society, and I think it would work well as an assigned text from upper primary all the way to university and beyond.
Some of the images are confronting – but history and literature are confronting. The words and images marry to create a very evocative and persuasive text that does more than entertain and enthral – it makes us think about our national anthem, about what our Commonwealth does stand for, and what it should stand for.
Every page is about inclusion in every aspect of Australia – about accepting, and listening to all voices. This truly brings to life issues surrounding the way Australia has grown and what it means to be Indigenous in an accessible way. As I said before, this would make for a wonderful educational text, and can start conversations.
I loved Gregg’s illustrations – so many. I cannot choose a favourite, because they all work so well to contribute to the persuasive poetry. An excellent educational resource for all.