"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Animal Dreaming: an Aboriginal Dreamtime Story by Paul Mori, 1998.

This is the story of the Kip-a-ara (initiation into manhood) of Mirri, who is told of the earth's origin by his friend and elder Gadurra. As they set off on walkabout, Mirri learns that the Great Ancestor War-ra-mur-run-gun-di created the animals, birds and fish and they all lived together in a watery place. Everything was fine until the birds decided they should have all of the land for themselves. A giant battle commenced, but three, Garn-dag-itj, the Ancestral Kangaroo, Bal-an-ga, the Ancestral Long-Necked Turtle and Din-e-wan, the Ancestral Emu would not fight. Instead, they looked for ways to bring peace. Each had a powerful dream and afterward, the land began to change. All the animals made their homes on earth and were at peace. From that time, when the animals dreamt, they lived their dreams. When the story ended, Mirri looked at rock paintings of the Dreamtime and knew that a time would come for him too to leave his mark.

Mori's paintings of Mirri and Gadurra are done in alkyds on canvas, while his Dreamtime images are based on traditional Dreamtime motifs and are painted in acrylics on wood. The questing boy and his surroundings are painted realistically, using deep dark colors to show a mysterious sacred space. Some of the striking Dreamtime pictures look almost like mosaics, with spirals, wavy lines and dots of earthen colors creating a night sky giving way to a dream. The backgrounds of the pictures of the emu, kangaroo and turtle are highly textured and look to be painted with natural pigments, suggesting the cave drawings that Mirri sees. Readers will enjoy the surrealistic pictures, such as the great snake coiling itself  and changing into a twisting, rock hillside.

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