Our shack had a dirt floor, and before I swept it I
would sprinkle water on it so the dust didn’t fly everywhere.
Then Mum would put an old piece of lino
down. I thought it looked lovely! When Elaine Russell was five, her dad built the family a shack
just outside the Aboriginal mission at La Perouse in Sydney.
In The Shack that Dad Built, Elaine illustrates what life was like for
an indigenous kid on the urban fringes. Her recollections range
from the happy memories of hide-and-seek in the sand dunes
and hunting for bush tucker to more bittersweet memories,
such as her “Saddest Christmas Ever” (when the charity responsible
for distributing presents to the local Aboriginal kids ran out
of toys just as Elaine reached the head of the queue).
Elaine’s colourful, painterly illustrations vividly recreate these