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Sissy’s Secret

Black Ink Press, Townsville, 2011
RRP $10

Reviewed by Barbara Bailey.

THIS IS another superb publication from women involved in the lives of Indigenous Australians.

The writer, Althea McKeown, and illustrator, Monique Russell, are related through their grandparents.

The author, Ms McKeown, a mother of five and grandmother of two, spent her early years in Thursday Island.

She is a passionate children’s worker and was confronted with a lack of resources for children who suffered abuse, particularly sexual abuse, so she decided to write about it in the children’s own language Torres Strait Creole.

She found books written in English were usually too difficult for these young children.

This book addresses the issue of the sexual abuse of Sissy by an uncle.

Her reaction is to withdraw and isolate herself until her mother sits quietly with her knowing there is a story Sissy needs to tell to someone she trusts.

When that happens the problem can be addressed by the community.

Before you begin reading Sissy’s Secret, it would be wise to turn to the back of the book to peruse the meaning of words used.

This, of course, indicates that this publication is mainly for indigenous children.

Illustrator, Monique Russell, is part of a large Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander family who live in North Queensland.

Her illustrations are vibrant, playful and eye-catching, made with coloured pencil on paper, outlined with a permanent marker.
Sissy’s Secret would be a very useful resource for young children in indigenous communities.