UNESCO and Times foundation launched the ‘Donate a Book’ initiative on April 24.Under the initiative on August 12, UNESCO organized a ‘Meet the Author’ session with Australian author, Jane Jolly. Six students of class VII accompanied me to the Australian High Commission for the meet.
About Jane Jolly:
JANE JOLLY has been a primary school teacher for twenty-five years. She has always taught in country schools. Presently she lives and works about an hour away from Adelaide. She loves organic farming and spending time with her family. Jane loves picture books and is drawn to the picture book section in bookshops. Inspiration for her stories often comes from real life.
She has published three books: ‘Limpopo Lullaby’; ‘Glass Tears’; ‘Ali, the bold heart’.
Inspiration for Jane’s writing often comes from real life. Her friends know she loves to write. They save up stories that they hear to tell her. When she first heard the story of a woman who gave birth to a baby in a tree with floodwaters swirling below, she was ‘gob smacked’.
In 2000, as Mozambique was ravaged by floods, many people found that their only choice was to take shelter in trees. The media spotlight fell on one tiny village where a woman, stuck with her family in a tree, was about to give birth. The remarkable story of this woman and her miraculous child is the inspiration for “Limpopo Lullaby”. Jane Jolly’s lyrical prose captures the rhythms of village life while Dee Huxley’s vibrant pastels portray nature in all her moods, ranging from brooding skies to swirling floodwaters to a glimpse of sun.
Once Jane hears a story she embellishes it in her mind. This process of forming the story may take months. During this time she researches the story as well. In the case of Sophia and Rosita’s story, she spent time looking at newspaper articles on the internet and then reading about Mozambique.
Leroy dances as the rain begins to fall. His sister and his pregnant mother join in his celebration of the coming of rain. But the rain keeps on falling and soon the Limpopo River rises and breaks its banks. Leroy, Aimee and Josette go with the other villagers to higher ground. They climb into the giant milkwood tree near the village as the river continues to rise. For three days they cling to the branches of the tree and on the fourth day Josette gives birth to her baby. Along with the rest of the villagers, they are rescued by helicopter and taken to a safe, dry place. Finally the rain stops.
The inspiration for Glass Tears came from a lonely grave on the cliff tops at Stenhouse Bay that she first saw when she was on a camping trip around ten years ago.
A plaque near the grave tells how in 1940 a Vietnamese sailor on the SS Notue was hit in the head by a bag of coal. A doctor was sent for but the bosun, Dao Thanh, was already dead by the time he arrived. Other Buddhist crewmembers on the ship held funeral rites for Dao Thanh and he was buried overlooking the sea. When the ship left a few days later, the crew lined the deck as a mark of respect for their friend.
The simple gravestone bears Dao Thanh’s name and age and on top sits a rectangular glass case with a bouquet of glass bead flowers inside. This bouquet was made and sent by his family. Sailors continued to visit the grave and pay their respects until 1975 when ships no longer stopped in the bay. Recently, members of the Vietnamese community have once again begun visiting and tending the grave.
When Jane first read the story and saw the grave, it made her shiver. She could imagine his family far away hearing of his death and making the bead bouquet for him. This was the starting point for her story.
A telegram arrives for Tian and Dao’s family. Their father has died in a country far away. The family lights incense in front of Father’s photo. As they make a bouquet of beaded flowers, they talk about his burial and remember him. The bouquet is packed away and sent to the strange land where he died to be placed on his grave. Tian hangs a blue bead in the window as she tries to remember her father.
ALI, THE BOLD HEART
The inspiration for Ali the Bold Heart came from the story of a refugee she heard from a lawyer who works with refugees in detention centres in Australia. Jane Jolly based her story a true story about an Iranian refugee who was locked up in the Woomera Detention Centre. After trying for five years to get a visa to allow him to stay in Australia, he was deported, never to be heard of again. When she heard of how he never gave up she was inspired to write a story about him.
When Jane heard that the man from Iran was a magician, it sparked her imagination, setting her wondering what he might have brought with him in that one bag – what might a magician consider his personal treasures to be? She also wondered what it might feel like to be so afraid that you leave your homeland, and what it might be like to be locked up for years behind barbed wire with nothing to do, hoping and waiting.
Ali is a magician who flees from his homeland because life has become dangerous there. After a long, difficult journey to a new land, Ali is locked up. Although he is downhearted, Ali performs his magic for the children and the adults he is locked up with and he never gives up asking for his freedom. One night there is a sandstorm, the gate clangs, and in the morning Ali is gone.