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Asian-Australian Children's Literature and Publishing
An Australian Children's Literature Project
(Status : Public)
Coordinated by AACLAP & CLDR Editors
  • Developing Empathy through Picture Books about Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers

    This exhibition has been inspired by the PhD thesis of Kumarasinghe D. Mudiyanselage titled: The Role of Picture Books in Developing an Empathic Response towards Cultural Difference. While researching his thesis Kumara was an HDR student in the Faculty of Education at QUT. His supervisors were Professor Kerry Mallan and Associate Professor Karen Dooley.

    While the possibility of moral persuasion through fiction has long been proposed, the study of the empathic potential of narratives is only now emerging as a major interest in the field of cognitive narratology and to a lesser degree in children’s literature studies. It was not until recently that academics paid much attention to cognitive aspects, such as empathy, in children’s picture books. Kumara investigated the use of narrative empathy in the fictional constructions of migrants’ experiences in Australian multicultural picture books. The study explored the ways in which picture book narratives attempt to engage readers to empathise with fictional ‘others’, in this case, voluntary migrants and forced migrants (refugees and asylum seekers), whose plights and predicaments are reimagined and narrated from different perspectives within a changing social and political landscape in Australia. In order to answer the research question: ‘How do contemporary Australian multicultural picture books draw on empathic narrative techniques to encourage readerly empathy towards cultural difference?’, this study used cognitive narratology, narrative empathy and semiotics to conduct the textual analysis of a selection of 16 migration-themed Australian picture books published from 1990 – 2014. The study found that a common strategy employed by the texts to encourage empathy was through reader positioning. Texts attempted subjective engagement of the reader with the plight of the migrant/refugee character by drawing on familiar scripts and schemas to affirm or disrupt ideas about migrants and cultural difference. The study also demonstrated how picture books furnish readers with accessible means to investigate the complex issues of migration. A desired outcome is that these texts promote children’s ethical understanding and intercultural understanding through imaginative interpretations of the migrant experience in picture book narratives.~

  • Marty and Mei-Ling / Phil Cummings & Craig Smith (1995)

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    This image has been sourced from online.
    Marty notices anything different and likes to tell everybody. He notices he is different too, but to friends like Mei-Ling it does not matter. (...more)
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  • Grandpa and Ah Gong / Morag Loh & Xiangyi Mo (1995)

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    This image has been sourced from online.
    'When Mandy's Chinese grandfather comes from Malaysia for a visit she is afraid that he and her Aussie grandpa will not get on. Fortunately they discover they have an interest in common: making kites for Mandy!' (Source: bookseller's website.) (...more)
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  • Old Magic / Allan Baillie & Di Wu (1996)

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    This image has been sourced from online.
    "Omar's grandfather, his kakek, remembers what it was like in the old country. Omar listens to his kakek and he shows his grandfather that he remembers the old country too." (Source: QBD) (...more)
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  • Speak Chinese, Fang Fang! / Sally Rippin (1996)

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    This image has been sourced from online.
    image of person or book cover
    This image has been sourced from online.

    'Fang Fang is a young girl who migrated to Australia from China with her parents when she was little. Her desire to be as Australian as her classmates brings her into conflict with her mother, who is anxious that Fang Fang does not lose her cultural heritage. However, when Fang Fang's cousin Lily visits from China, Fang Fang is delighted to find that Lily speaks perfect English and is interested in the same music and singers.'

    Source: Publisher's blurb.

    (...more)
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  • Grandpa's Mask / Guo Jing Jing & Di Wu (2001)

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    This image has been sourced from online.
    'This is a children's picture book about a young Chinese girl who shares a love for the Chinese opera with her grandfather. Now that her family is in Australia and she can no longer watch the opera on television, she decides to create her own opera mask - on her grandfather's face while he is sleeping. The author wrote this story at 12 years of age, when she won a national creative writing competition with it.' (Source: Google Books) (...more)
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  • The Wishing Cupboard / Libby Hathorn & Elizabeth Stanley (2002)

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    Tran, a young boy, is anxiously awaiting his mother's return from Vietnam where she has gone to fetch his cousin, Lan, who is coming to live with them. To assuage the boy's longing for his mother, his grandmother goes with him to the 'wishing cupboard'. Together they go through many past events and dreams as Tran is allowed to explore the cupboard's contents. (Libraries Australia) (...more)
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  • Cat and Fish / Joan Grant & Neil Curtis (2003)

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    This image has been sourced from online.
    Cat and Fish come from different worlds - he from the land, she from the sea. But when they meet in the park one night, they like each other's looks. Cat shows Fish his world and teaches her how to climb, how to take shelter from the rain, and how to stay warm. But Fish misses the sea, so Cat takes her back and meets her friends and discovers the water world. Then the trouble starts. (...more)
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  • Hyram and B. / Brian Caswell & Matt Ottley (2003)

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    Hyram and B are friends for ever. Discarded by their owners, Hyram and B have lived on the top shelf of the toy shop for longer than anyone. Then a little girl buys B bear and takes him home. Will the two friends find each other again?

    This collaboration with author Brian Caswell is a gentle story about the power of friendship for those who understand the secret language of friendship.

    (from the illustrator's website http://mattottley.com/product/hyram-and-b/)

    (...more)
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  • The Most Beautiful Lantern / Sally Heinrich (2007)

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    This image has been sourced from online.
    "The mid-Autumn festival is Mei-Ling's favourite celebration. She is looking forward to taking part in a lantern parade with all her friends, and is determined to have the most beautiful lantern in the whole parade." (Source: Trove) (...more)
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  • Rainbow Bird / Czenya Cavouras (2007)

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    This image has been sourced from online.
    'Stark and beautiful, Rainbow Bird is a book of rare insight. More than a children's book, or an art book, this is a work of pain, hope, and simple, profound truth. An unseen, unnamed narrator takes us on a journey through fear, uncertainty and despair to hope. Every page challenges us to think and, above all, to feel.' (Publisher's blurb) (...more)
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  • Ziba Came on a Boat / Liz Lofthouse & Robert Ingpen (2007)

    Courtesy of Penguin Books Australia.
    'A picture book about a little (Afghan) girl whose family has lost everything and their brave journey across the sea to make a new life.' (Source: QUT Library Catalogue) (...more)
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  • Home and Away / John Marsden & Matt Ottley (2008)

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    Image courtesy of publisher's website.
    image of person or book cover
    Image courtesy of publisher's website
    Mum is a rehab counselor for people with alcohol problems. Grandma Raynor lives next door. Dad is a driver for Elgas. Then there's me, fifteen, into a lot of different stuff. Music, surfing, animals, tennis, swimming, computer games. And my sister, Claire, and brother Toby. We're a typical Australian family. Barbeques, footy, gardening, school, Holden Commodores. Then one day things change. April 26, Dad burns the toast, yells at Toby, thanks me for cleaning the cab of the truck, kisses Mum and Toby, then he's gone. (...more)
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  • The Other Bears / Michael Thompson (2010)

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    Image courtesy of Publisher website

    'Mother and Father Koala are suspicious of the OTHER bears. They don't like the pandas and they don't trust the polars. The black bears are noisy and the brown bears have big teeth.

    'But all their grumpiness melts away, watching the littlest bears at play.' (Source: publisher's website.)

    (...more)
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  • A Safe Place to Live / Bic Walker (2011)

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    This image has been sourced from online.
    'Once upon a time, my family lived in a place that was unsafe. People were always fighting and there was war everywhere. So we decided we must go on a journey to find a safer home to live.' (Trove record) (...more)
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  • My Two Blankets / Irena Kobald (2014)

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    Image courtesy of publisher's website
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    This image has been sourced from online.

    'Cartwheel has moved to a place that is so strange to her that she no longer feels like herself. She creates a safe place under an old blanket, made out of memories and thoughts of home. As time goes on, Cartwheel begins to weave a new blanket, one of friendship and a renewed sense of belonging. It is different from the old blanket, but it is eventually just as warm and familiar. This story is for all who have experienced change. It is about learning new ways of speaking, new ways of living, new ways of being.

    (...more)
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