Thursday, April 25, 2024

Mildura books tell story of region’s multicultural roots

The Mildura region’s multicultural roots are being celebrated through a new series of children’s storybooks.

Eleven storybooks have been created in English, Arabic, Punjabi, Dari, Kirundi, Filipino and Uyghur and other languages through the Mildura Bilingual Storybook Project – a joint partnership between Mildura Rural City Council, SuniTAFE and other community groups.

The books have been written, illustrated and translated by community volunteers following a series of writing and illustration workshops held throughout 2023.

“Each story is unique, celebrating what it means to call our region home. The project also provided an opportunity to build relationships and partnerships – with many of the participants forging life-long friendships through their collaboration,” Council said in a statement.

The books, which were launched at a special celebration at the Mildura Arts Centre yesterday, are available for download from Council’s website. Audio versions of the books are also available, while limited hard copies have been made available to local schools and other organisations.

Councillor for Community Development and Gender Equity, Helen Healy, congratulated everyone involved in the initiative.

“The journey to produce these wonderful books began way back in 2023, with our volunteer authors, illustrators and translators dedicating hours of their time to reach this point,” Cr Healy said.

“With titles like ‘I am a circle’, ‘Come and Meet my Family’ and ‘Mildura Holiday’ – each book is unique and wonderful in its own way, while also showcasing a little bit of what it means to call Mildura home through so many different perspectives and experiences.

“The illustrations are colourful and engaging, and the fact that we have 11 books available in a variety of languages common to our area is testament to our strong multicultural community.”

Author, illustrator and translator Claire Milne (pictured, main photo) said she enjoyed the experience of bring her book, ‘I am a circle’ to life.

She said that the idea behind ‘I am a circle’ came about a few years ago on a family trip to Townsville.

“Unfortunately we all caught COVID – so we couldn’t do any of the things we were supposed to do and were stuck in the house,” she said.

“I came up with this game where you think about something that is in the shape of a circle – and it was quite interesting watching the family draw and find things.

“Then I thought, could I turn this into a book?”

Claire said she hoped children would simply have fun when they read the book.

The project also proved a big win for SuniTAFE Visual Arts and Graphic Design students, with SuniTAFE Education Delivery Manager of Creative Design, Sophie Cook, describing the initiative as “an amazing experience.”

“Some of the students were involved in illustrating two of the books, while graphic design students helped put the majority of the books together for publication,” she explained.

“For our Visual Artists involved it was a chance to incorporate their work into their portfolio, while for our graphic design students it played a considerable role in their assessment across several units.

“The project was also a chance to do something for the community – our students were part of a collaborative experience that is really going to benefit our bilingual community.”

Those interested can download a copy of each book, and listen to the audio recordings, at www.mildura.vic.gov.au/BilingualBooks.

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