Anita Heiss reviews the winner of The Prime Minister’s Award for Children’s Fiction, Shake A Leg by Boori Monty Pryor and Jan Ormerod

by |September 22, 2011

Boori Monty Pryor  is a stellar storyteller. I’ve seen him in action wowing young people and adults alike at schools, libraries, community events and major literary festivals. There’s no surprise at all that his most recent book Shake A Leg  – with lively illustrations by the talented Jan Ormerod – was named the 2011 Winner (Children’s Fiction) in the prestigious Prime Minister’s Awards.

Inspired by members of his own family, Boori  – who hails from Northern Queensland and the Birrigubba and Kungganji nations – has cleverly woven his ancient traditions, culture and stories in a modern day yarn.

Through the story of three young fellas hunting for pizza we get an insight into contemporary Aboriginal life. It’s a place where Blackfellas speak Italian (in fact, they go to Italy which takes the meaning of ‘going walkabout’ to a whole new level). Where Murris are chefs, nurses and sound engineers. Where crocodile pizza is washed down with milkshakes (now that’s what I call culinary fusion). Where the busy street acts as the bora ring today. And where people can live in cities and still respect and value thousands of years of culture.

Teachers often ask me about titles for use in the classroom, especially in relation to discussing Aboriginal identity.  Shake A Leg is perfect for that in-class engagement and it even comes with teachers’ notes, so half the work is done already.

Thank you, Anita for allowing us to share your review with our readers.

Visit Booktopia’s Anita Heiss Author Page here.

Order your copy  of Shake a Leg from  Booktopia here.

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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