Michael Thorn chooses world books

It is easy to see why My Girragundji and The Binna Binna Man (Allen and Unwin pound;4.99 each) have won awards in Australia. These superb stories, by Meme McDonald and Boori Monty Pryor, showing what it is like to grow up as an Aborigine in the 21st century, should be in every primary school library. The short cinematically designed paperbacks are printed in a variety of type sizes, using photographs as framed inserts and faint page backgrounds. My Girragundji is about a boy whose pet tree-frog helps him to overcome his fears of the Hairyman. In The Binna Binna Man, the same boy is a little older, and coming to terms with the changes of puberty.

* When a Girl Is Born, by Pamela Grant (Oxford pound;4.99), set in China at the turn of the last century, is a strong novel for older primary readers about political and individual freedom, and relationships between the sexes. Ko-chin's world is turned upside down when, at the age of 14, she marries Han-lao, a young man intent on reform. The unbinding of her feet is matched by a cutting free from traditional role restrictions. As a read-aloud, it is a perfect vehicle for helping children look beyond the Chinese New Year; on the library shelf, it would provide further reading for children given a taste for political novels by books such as The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo (Puffin pound;4.99), and Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah (Bloomsbury pound;4.99).

* In Not So Fast Songololo, by South African Niki Daly (Frances Lincoln pound;10.99), a young black boy, Shepherd, accompanies his grandmother into the city centre, because she gets confused by the little green men at traffic lights. At the start of the book, Shepherd has old tackies (trainers) and likes to do things slowly. At the end of the shopping trip, he is the proud owner of bright new red tackies and strides ahead of his grandmother, hence the title. This was first published in the 1980s, when the relegation of white faces to incidental roles in a South African picture-book was ground-breaking.

* Proverbs From Far And Wide (Macmillan pound;4.99) is subtitled "a wonderfully witty collection of the world's wisdom". These aphorisms, which have to be seen alongside Axel Scheffler's witty illustrations to be fully appreciated, should appeal to the full primary age range.

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