Common Wealth

Authored by Gregg Dreise
Illustrated by Gregg Dreise
Published by Scholastic Press

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“Let’s work together to care, live with true common wealth…and share.”

Common Wealth is a picture book of a different kind. With slam poetry at its very heart, it brings to the foreground the voices of those who have long been ignored; the indigenous people of Australia. It speaks of unity and respect, at times hard hitting in its words and accompanying pictures, however, there is always the thread of hope running through.

As you move through each page you are educated about Australian history and the traditions that are held most valuable to those indigenous to the land. The book is beautifully illustrated by the author, vibrant colours are juxtaposed against the darkest of black which tells their own story of loss, the need to learn from the past and the drive to move forward into a new world of understanding.

This picture book is most suitable for key stage 3+; there is one double page spread that portrays the torturous treatment of the indigenous people not suitable for younger readers. Whilst the book does say that its for those who are older, the majority of it could and should, be shared within the primary classroom. This text has so much to offer as it is full of information and inspiration. It could be explored in history, geography and SMSC/PSHE when looking at the effects of colonialism, spirituality and nature. In addition to the poem there are short sentences that also could be explored through philosophy for children. The artwork is rich and is powerful. As a piece of literature, it could be the driving force for pupils to explore personal, national and global issues, creating their own poems to slam.

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