Fancy another shrimp on the barbie, Bruce?

10 Dec

Now, THIS is a knife. Did you ever see that episode of “The Simpsons” when Bart places a long distance call to Australia (collect, of course) and ends up causing diplomatic hissy fits from our neighbors to the south…and then turn a little, yep, away from Africa, now move a skosh and there: Australia! Yeah, so Bart pisses off Australia and there is that delightful slide show of America’s brief crush on Australia in the 1980s (Yahoo Serious, anyone? I totally call dibs on that for Halloween next year!). That’s my second fave episode of the show (Maggie attending Ayn Rand daycare then breaking out a la “The Great Escape” is the best.). Anyway, this book is NOT like that. First off, it’s not delightful, it has no sense of humor, there are no Vegemite sandwiches and it was written by that doddering couple who are responsible for that horrible book on Japan from a few days ago.

Because it’s so freaking cold here, we need to conserve our energy. Thus, I am focusing on a smaller, but crucial part of…

This was before The Limited had their "Outback Red" line, when Australia was exotic.

So , ho hum, not the world’s worst cover (that’s a special award we reserve for the really bad stuff. See “unfortunate covers.”) The cowboy with the giant antlers looks delightfully wacky, but not threatening. There are non-white people prominently featured. Looks like your average boring book that you have to read and try not to copy word-for-word for your third grade report on The World’s Countries. Well, let’s see what kind of information is available for your report. Keep in mind that at this stage in your intellectual development you have not developed many critical analysis skills and tend to believe things written in books.

They're wearing UNDERWEAR!

Nothing warms my heart more than third grade boys looking at National Geographic or pictures like this. You can just hear the embarassed/fascinated giggles emanating from the page! In all (Yahoo) seriousness, OH. MY. The Caldwells totally gloss over this whole “reservation” idea and don’t get that the comparisons between American Indians and aborigines are painfully true. Third graders learn about the civil rights movement and the Holocaust, why can’t they learn about reservations and what those really are and mean? Plus, this and the next page are the ONLY ONES devoted to aborgines, so you can see the impression a young reader walks away with. Oy. Next page please!

Native peoples throw the BEST parties, yo.

So when they aren’t stone cold kickin it in HIGH style as cowboys on reservations, the aborigines throw crazee-ass dance parties. They take a really long walk, for no good reason whatsoever, then paint themselves and do a strange dance. It’s like a Grateful Dead show or your cousin Mindy’s bat mitzvah when all of your over-50 relatives shake it to “YMCA” and “We Are Family” (that always gets everyone out on the dance floor.) I pity the child who used this book for a report back in the day. He probably owns a baseball team or works at a hedge fund now.

I can sum up this book in one sentence: it is stupid and we should throw rocks at it.


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