Welcome to Country (Aunty Joy Murphy, illus by Lisa Kennedy, Black Dog Books)
Although ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ speeches are increasingly a part of Australian gatherings, many non-Indigenous Australians are still learning about traditional ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremonies. Welcome to Country by senior Wurundjeri elder Aunty Joy Murphy and Trawlwoolway descendant illustrator Lisa Kennedy presents a traditional cultural greeting that welcomes readers—in English but with some translated Woiwurrung words and phrases—to the Wurundjeri traditional lands around Melbourne. Murphy’s text is simple but not simplistic, and the book will suit parents or teachers reading aloud to young children: with both narrative and informational appeal, it will contribute well to school libraries and is perfect for stimulating classroom discussion about place, beliefs, traditions and human relationships to the environment. Kennedy’s warm acrylics blend contemporary techniques with traditional image components to present the Wurundjeri people, animals, plants and waters. The images are both soft and bold, using rich colours with varied palettes to create a different scene for each double-page spread: rivers, fires, night skies and, on the final pages, a lovely melange of human and animal figures with both natural and built environments.
Anica Boulanger-Mashberg is an editor, writer and bookseller at the Hobart Bookshop