Published: 6th January 2021
Publisher: Little Hare Books; an imprint of Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing
Format: Picture book (borrowed from the library)
Day Break is the story of a family making their way back to Country on January 26. We see the strength they draw from being together, and from sharing stories as they move through a shifting landscape.
The story refocuses the narratives around ‘Australia Day’ on Indigenous survival and resistance, and in doing so honours the past while looking to the future. Confronting yet truthful, painful yet full of hope, Day Break is a crucial story that will open up a conversation on truth-telling for the next generation.
Day Break by Amy McQuire and Matt Chun is the often silenced side of the great Australian Day debate, it’s the voice of our Indigenous people, and it’s their story of what the day means to and for them. It’s a picture book bursting at the seems with heart and soul, with hurt and sorrow, and love and compassion. It’s gentle, though provoking and an extremely powerful book that needs to be better acknowledged.
I am not an Indigenous Australian, as such I do not wish for my words, opinions or reviews to overshadow those written by Indigenous Australians; I urge you to look up reviews of this book (and many others) written by Indigenous reviewers and organisations. Their input and opinions on this book matter more than my own, I just want to do my part in getting this brilliant book out there to as many readers as possible.
Day Break is an Indigenous story. It is a gentle tale told as a multi-generational conversation between child, parent and grandparent. It seeks to educate ALL Australians on the true history of Australian Day and the traditions that matter. It doesn’t seek to point fingers, to argue or cause debate, but rather its a way for Indigenous children to see themselves, their communities, their experiences and their ceremonies presented in picture books that are readily available.
The book contrasts ‘traditional’ Anglo-Saxon celebrations of Australia Day with the Indigenous culture by offering a side by side comparison. It artfully illustrates how our schooling system depicts only one version (the Anglo-Saxon) of the day through early art of the flag and the teachings that “white men discovered our country” despite Indigenous Australians having been here “for tens of thousands of years” beforehand. It furthers this by picturing a day celebrating on the beach, with flags and various other merchandise vs the ceremony held in country, walking barefoot on the earth, with the land and family.
‘If we forget what happened to us, Dad Says, ‘we lose a part of who we are.’
Although largely centered around Australia Day, Day Break is a book about Indigenous history as a whole, written and penned by Indigenous people for Indigenous readers. It is a way for Indigenous children to see themselves in the story, to see their history told. It speaks about the invasion of white settlers, and touches on the stolen generation. The past hurts are laid bare, so that the future remains hopeful.
And as long as you are here, on this Country, you will remember. It is our land. Always was. Always will be.
I stumbled across this book in my local library completely by accident, and I am so thankful that I did. Day Break is a book that belongs in every classroom around the country. It deserves so much more attention, but more importantly, I hope that it’s readers are finding it easily. That Indigenous readers are seeing themselves and their experiences on the page. That they feel seen and heard.
To purchase a copy of Day Break, visit the following online retailers:
To learn more about Amy McQuire, visit the following social media sites:
To learn more about Matt Chun, visit the following social media sites: