Bungawitta by Emily Rodda - will it be the first title I mention to be part of the 2012 CBCA short list? This is the quintessential Australian yarn. The town of Bungawitta has been ravaged by drought. There are young children who think rain is a myth because they have never seen it in their lifetime. The few remaining inhabitants now gather at the general store each morning to listen to the unchanging weather prediction – fine and sunny. On the day of this story Jay makes a suggestion that will change the course of all their lives, put Bungawitta on the map and give this community the happy ending they deserve.
Each of the twelve people has a skill or a gift. Jay suggests they hold a festival – The Bungawitta Earth Festival, where city folk are invited to come and sculpt the clay that can be made from the dirt around the town when it is mixed with brown water from the post office water tank. Auntie Flo organizes refreshments, souvenirs, chutney and jam, Cookie makes fruit cakes, Socko’s mum organizes a sausage sizzle and pony rides for the kids and so on.
On the day of the festival everyone holds their breath waiting to see if anyone will turn up. “Then the first car came over the hill. It was a bright yellow VW Beetle with four people inside.” It is the promise of the ABC television reporters and camera crew that has bought the city people in their droves but will the television people really come and what is Glory-Alice, the youngest child in town, excited about?
Drought is a harsh reality in Australia. City children can gain an insight into life in a small country community through this easy to read novel Bungawitta but they will also enjoy the humour, friendships and sheer determination of these special people.
Emily Rodda has taken a new direction in her storytelling and with the lively illustrations of Craig Smith I hope you agree this book is a beaut!! You can read very extensive teachers notes here.