Sorry Day, by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler.
Updated: Oct 6, 2020
This beautifully written and illustrated picture book tells two alternating but linked stories about loss, which work together to convey the powerful message of the need to acknowledge the past before moving forward. The story opens with Maggie and her mother waiting in the crowd to hear the Prime Minster Kevin Rudd make a public apology to the people of the Stolen Generations and their families. Maggie is filled with fear when she is briefly separated from her mother in the crowd. In an alternate story set in the past, young children run playing in the morning sun, until a terrifying holler from their camp tells them to hide: white men are coming.
Whereas young Maggie is reunited with her mother and reassured with cuddles, the young children are pursued and taken away from their families as “screams echoed across the land…”
It is here that Maggie’s story contrasts with that of the young children in the past. Maggie is safe again, wrapped in her mother’s protective embrace.
The children who are removed from their families are not.
The illustrations work seamlessly with the spare but emotive text to portray a story of loss, pain…and hope. The soft warm colours used in the illustrations of Maggie’s story contrast with the muted sepia tones used to depict the events of the past. The striking image of a mother desperately chasing after the trucks as the children are taken away will make your heart tremble with sadness. The final fold-out page spread takes us back into the present with the muted tones of the past giving way to the brighter colours of the present as the crowd roars with applause.
This is a story that - despite its echoes of pain and loss - ultimately resonates with hope. And this hope - that we can move forward together in unity by acknowledging the mistakes of the past - glimmers through like a candle in the dark.
Sorry Day is an essential addition to every school and home library. Reading this book with Mr 7 and Mr 5 inspired conversation about the Stolen Generations. They found it difficult to understand how something like this could happen, particularly as it happened “long ago and not so long ago”.
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