Kidd, Diana. Two Hands Together. Puffin, 2000. $A12.95. ISBN 0-14-130748-X
This is the last novel by multi-award winning author Diana Kidd before her untimely death earlier this year. As she has done in a number of her books such as Onion Tears and The Fat and Juicy Place, in Two Hands Together, Diana Kidd tackles issues of racism and reconciliation.
Lily and her younger brother Jake, live in a happy, close-knit family with a father whom they dearly love, despite his occasional lack of tolerance for some of the neighbours. He is, to use an Australian slang expression, rather "ocker" - a bit rough round the edges. But his children are proud of his strength and his sporting prowess, especially all his football trophies. Things change, however, when an Aboriginal family moves in next door. Dad in particular changes, and Lily is ashamed of what she sees in him.
Lily and Ella become best friend and Lily and Jake spend a great deal of time next door with the Riley family and especially enjoy listening to Aunty Maisie's stories about her possum-skin rug. Their father tries to prevent their visits next door: "I don't want you playing with blackfellas" and the change in their father upsets and puzzles the children. What has happened to their formerly jovial and good-natured father? "I don't like Dad talking about the Rileys like that. As if they're aliens from another planet. As if they're not like him and Mum and Jake and me." Kidd is making it very clear that she regards children as capable of understanding the essential humanity of people and that, in this way, they can redeem their parents from racists attitudes - it's a case, as so often in children's literature, of "a little child shall lead them". It takes a heroic action on the part of the Rileys and which saves Jake's life, for their father to change their mind. It is after this incident that Lily's family finally speaks to the Rileys and her father finds that they too are interested in football.The sport thus becomes part of the bridging process between the two families and, in a wider sense, between the two cultures.
The book is endorsed by the New South Wales Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Incorporated.