Tradebook Tips for Teachers from Children’s Author M.E. Finke

Welcome to day three of M.E. Finke’s 6-day NWFCC February Author Showcase tour.

I have long believed that reading wonderful books is a child’s Magic Carpet Ride to safe adventure, fun learning, and an expanded imagination. Teachers are often the Caliphs or gatekeepers of this Magic Carpet Ride.

**The story of Taconi and Claude offers a class trip to the Australian outback of the early 1950s.
The rich and fascinating flora and fauna of this area of Australia rises off the pages. Kids will smell the gum trees, feel the scorching heat, and wonder at the termite mounds. A fear of wild dingoes might steal over them at any moment.

Pictures of unique Aussie Animals – click a picture for extra information:

Aussie flora – pictures and information:

A class reading of my “Down-under Fun” page, on critters unique to Down-under, offers fun facts + links to other resources. Supervised Googling of the various animals will show more detailed information + pictures. The wattle tree is the Australian national tree, and is mentioned in Taconi and Claude. The sweet smelling clusters of yellow flowers are a national symbol.

Taconi and Claude offers a chance for children to look at another culture and see how it compares with their own. It will help children learn to be tolerant of the customs and beliefs of others. Doing this will hopefully make the world into a more peaceful and happy place.


** Tribal history is in the past: but it is never forgotten.

Much as the arrival of white men in the Americas decimated the Indians, the penal colonies that grew and spread in early Australia meant death and disaster for the aboriginal tribes. The sheep the newcomers brought ate the grass needed for wild animals. Fear of each other made both sides wantonly kill.  Well into the 20th century the aboriginal people of Australia were disrespected and treated badly. Now small in numbers, they drifted to the cities, where alcohol proved disastrous for them. Only in the last few decades have they banded together and improved their standing. They now manage the great Urulu as a tourist attraction, and keep its secrets safe for future generations. Education is making a huge difference.

The aboriginal custom of going walkabout (naked as a newborn) can be appreciated if not indulged in. The wide open spaces of Australia let their souls breathe free. They believe the dreamtime is an all encompassing entity that lives in them and in everything that nature provides. The large tribal gathering at the end of the story gives a feel for the rich heritage that is handed down from generation to generation. Aboriginals have no written language. All their history is verbal, and must be memorized and passed on to story tellers in each generation.

 Artwork is revered and often sacred. It can be found in secret caves all over the outback. Different tribes have their own ways of revering the Dreamtime and specific ancient customs. The tribal call pulses throughout my story. Ask children how they would feel if they had Taconi’s problems: a scary and secret Man Ceremony, a mean Medicine Man, and Dreamtime Sprits versus the Big Smoke and the white man’s way.

The affluent owners of a cattle station, and the times, also come under Taconi’s keen eye. The quirks and customs will boggle kid’s minds


**Go for a Down-under geography lesson:

It’s not called Down-under for nothing – look where it is situated on a world globe. Only the coastal areas are friendly to human habitation. The vast inner regions comprise what they call scrub or bush plus huge outright desert areas.

Ayers Rock (now called the sacred name of Uluru) is the Aussie heart. Australia is rich in coal, and rare minerals that are in worldwide demand.  Around the land off the Gulf of Carpentaria are diamond mines. The climate goes from tropical rainforest beneath Cape York, to the colder and drier areas of Victoria. The Daintree Rainforest is the oldest in the world, and once covered all of Australia. It now clings to a small area at the top of Queensland. The outback begins in Queensland when you cross the Great Australian Divide from the lush coast east of the Pacific ocean, to the dry bush and desert areas on the western side of the mountain range.

For more detailed current and historical facts these two sites offer lots of out of the ordinary information that is kid friendly.

Basic Australian Information

History of Australia:

Follow Day 4 of Ms. Finke’s tour tomorrow at Leave a comment and your name will automatically be entered to win a Three Angels Gourmet Co mug and a package of Divine Dill Dip Mix – at the end of the month, provided by the National Writing for Children Center.


10 responses to this post.

  1. OF course coming from England one tends to know a lot more about Australia… the southern colonials rather than those in the USA or Western Colonials. Down under it alsmot totally true as Australia is basicall the direct opposite to the UK globe wise. Back in the days were people could emigrate from the UK to Aus for ten pounds many many moved there. The book looks so interesting and following MArgot around on her tour is great fun.

    I still though think vegimite is a very poor imitation of marmite lol



  2. Wow. This is so interesting! You’ve made the place and its beauty come alive. By the way, I think a regular walkabout is a great idea to keep authors sane!


  3. Margot:

    Absolutely fascinating! I’ve had the pleasure of reading Taconic and Claude and the fast paced action definitely kept me eagerly turning the pages (or should I say, sliding the pages on my iPad). A wonderful action filled story, not to be missed!

    Best wishes,


  4. Thank you all so much for the kind words and the comments. And thank you Nicole and NWCC, for this wonderful opportunity to bring Taconi and Claude to the attention of so many new viewers.

    I won’t touch the Marmite versus Vegemite war with a chipped boomerang – fairdinkum mate!!

    Margot’s Magic Carpet – all 11 of my books on one page


  5. Margot, this was a fascinating interview. I really enjoyed your approach to writing. I like to try the same things – vivid imagery and characters keep the reader, no matter what age, engaged. Best wishes on your future endeavors.


  6. Thanks Margaret Rose. I really appreciate our kind words.

    Margot’s Magic Carpet – all 11 books on one page.


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