They’re small square board books entitled
- People and Places
- At the Billabong
and they’re all illustrated with exquisite artwork by Debbie Austin, from the Kirrae Whurrong nation in western Victoria.
Animals is a simple little book of symbols representing Australia’s native animals. There are footprints of wombats, kangaroos, dingoes and so on, all painted in the traditional colours of black, yellow, red and white. There is a legend at the back so that children can guess which footprints belong to which animal.
People and places is similar, but the symbols are of fire, watering places, weapons and so on. I enjoyed trying to guess what these ones were, and will use this knowledge next time I try to interpret an Aboriginal work of art.
At the Billabong features a cut-out circle representing a billabong in the middle of the book, and the text tells a simple little story about the creatures that gathered at the billabong on a hot day.
Small children will find these little books enchanting, but they serve a wider purpose. As the blurb says:
The series was created to help raise awareness of the importance of using Australian Aboriginal symbols to teach stories top our young in all cultures, as they have been for over 60,000 years.
In this delightful new range of books for babies and children, we discover the value of learning more about the spirituality of the Australian landscape and its indigenous people and embrace an Australian identity infused with existing native wisdom and lore.
Suitable for kindergartens and prep classes, they would also make a very special gift to welcome a new baby, I think.
Click the links to buy from Fishpond.
Author and illustrator: Debbie Austin
First Discovery Series
Publisher: Discovery Press, 2008
ISBNs: Animals 9780980470109; People and Places 9780980470116; At the Billabong 9780980470123
Source: review copies courtesy of book distributors Dennis Jones and Associates sent