Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Five things to inspire connection

Adorable cows, shimmering deserts, and the deep currents that connect us.


Found has some of the most adorable cow drawings you’ll ever see; their limpidly lashed eyes and big wet noses nuzzling you from the page. Blue Mountains artist, and descendant of the Bundjalung people, Charmaine Ledden-Lewis, has engaged beautifully with Bruce Pascoe’s story of a calf who gets separated from his family. It seems her matriarchal lineage – “a living legacy of the Stolen Generation” – helped her connect deeply with this delicate lost-and-found story. Writer, Bruce Pascoe, best known for Dark Emu, is of Tasmanian, Bunurong and Yuin descent, and this is his first children’s picture book. Read it with your kids until the cows come home!


Respect is the first title in the ‘Our Place’ series of four children’s picture books which welcome and introduce children to important elements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. It has a quiet grace that shimmers through its red deserts and flowing waters – luring readers to listen to Indigenous wisdom about how to treat people and the earth with courtesy and consideration. Lisa Kennedy’s illustrations are luscious and vivid – complementing Fay Stewart-Muir’s and Sue Lawson’s pared back text. Stewart-Muir is a Boonwurrung Elder from south-east Victoria and Kennedy is a descendant of the coastal Trawlwoolway people of north-east Tasmania.


Family is the second book in the ‘Our Place’ series is a simple story encapsulating an important message about “listening to Aunties, Uncles, Elders and Ancestors,” and finding a place to belong.  Fay Stewart-Muir’s and Sue Lawson’s text shows that families can be as different as the stars in the sky – but kinship can be humanity’s mainstay. Jasmine Seymour’s touching illustrations support the message that we all need to learn how to honour the deep currents that connect us. Seymour is a Darug woman who wants everyone to know through her books that the Darug mob are still here and still strong.


If you want to know how to be a good ally to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Living on Stolen Land, is the perfect primer. Ambelin Kwaymullina, writer, illustrator and legal academic from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia, asks readers to challenge settler thoughts and behaviours relating to stolen lands, sovereignties, systemic bias and more. Kwaymullina says, “I hope my book helps people to make a start, or to continue on their journeys, towards a decolonised Australia.” She writes: There are no trees / rivers / hills / stars / that were not / are not / someone’s kin.


When the Peanuts gang are lying looking at clouds, Linus sees the stoning of Stephen, the Apostle Paul, and the painter and sculptor Thomas Eakin. When Lucy asks Charlie Brown what he sees, he says, “I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsie, but I changed my mind.” No pressure! In Happiness is a Cloud by Robert Vescio (author) and Nancy Bevington (illustrator) have captured the ups and downs of a young boy’s emotional life, with Harry seeing flying pigs, a rhinoceros … and finally happiness. Read it outside with your kids and ask them what they see and feel.



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