Sorry Day

Coral Vass

Sorry Day
National Library of Australia
1 December 2019

Sorry Day

Coral Vass

Winner of the 2019 CBCA Eve Pownall Award for Information Books   

There was a hum  of excitement. Flags flickered  in the breeze as Maggie’s heart danced with delight. ‘This is a very  special day!’ her mother said.       

Maggie  holds tight to her mother as they await the long anticipated apology to show a willingness to reconcile the past for future generations. In the excitement of the crowd Maggie loses touch of her mother’s hand as is lost.       

In a time ‘long ago and not so long ago’ children were taken from their parents, their ‘sorrow  echoing across the land’. As the Prime Minister’s speech unfolds Maggie is reunited with her mother. But the faces and memories of the stolen generation are all around them.     

Two stories entwine in this captivating retelling of the momentous day when the then Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, acknowledged the sorrows of past and said ‘Sorry’ to the generation of children who were taken from their homes.   

The book includes a foreword from Lee Joachim; Chair of Rumbalara Aboriginal  Cooperative and Director of Research and Development for Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation.


Sorry Day is told in alternating timelines. In the modern day, Maggie is in a busy crowd with her mother watching a man apologise for the actions of a country and government. In the past, several Indigenous children play and then hide from the white men who have come to remove them from their families.

The stories begin in parallel: Maggie is happy and safe with her mother; the children are playing in the dust, safe in the knowledge that their mothers are at a nearby fire. But their stories diverge when Maggie is briefly separated from her mum only to be quickly reunited and given reassuring cuddles. The children are not so lucky. The story does not delve into what happens to the children next and it doesn’t need to.

Sorry Day ends with hope, though I got goosebumps reading the last page. This is a gentle and important book, and a great way to start conversations with kids aged 5+ about our nation’s past.

Dani Solomon is the assistant manager at Readings Kids.

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