February 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

First Footprints | SLJ DVD Review

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redstarFirst Footprints. 3:49 hrs. Dreamscape. 2017. $24.99. $199.99 (PPR). ISBN 818506020268.

Gr 10 Up –This four-part, two-disc series illuminates Australia’s ancient human history. The episodes follow in historical order, beginning with the earliest migrations into Australia, which occurred some 50,000 years ago. The final segment concludes with contact between Indigenous Australians and European explorers and merchants. Viewers learn about Australia’s remote history, including the oldest discovered human remains on the continent, Lake Mungo Man, from tens of thousands of years ago. The film contains numerous examples of ancient Australian artwork; some of the rock art is so old that it features depictions of long-extinct animals from the Ice Age. An amazing 9,000-year-old boomerang is also presented. The film weaves among contemporary archaeologists, Native commentators, and archival footage of Aboriginal life. The latter includes hunting scenes and dances. (Teachers should know that there is nudity in some of the archival footage.) Native Australians adapted and flourished in new ways after the great flooding that followed the end of the Ice Age, and they survived the great extinctions caused by the changing climate. Throughout, the film does an excellent job of consulting and incorporating Aboriginal perspectives. The pacing is graceful, and the documentary is respectful toward the content matter, never sensationalizing the material. ­VERDICT An excellent addition to high school collections, and a great resource for world history, anthropology, and geography classes.–Jeffrey Meyer, Mount Pleasant Public Library, IA

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

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