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Wilam: A Birrarung Story (Aunty Joy Murphy & Andrew Kelly, illus by Lisa Kennedy, Black Dog)

Wilam is an illustrated children’s book about Birrarung (the Yarra River) and some of the native animals that live nearby. Aunty Joy Murphy, a Wurundjeri Elder, is the author of Welcome to Country, another collaboration with illustrator Lisa Kennedy, a Trawlwoolway descendant. Joining Murphy and Kennedy on Wilam is Andrew Kelly. He has written numerous books for children and adults, and has a strong interest in the river. The story commences at dawn with Bunjil (wedge-tailed eagle) at the river’s source and follows the river and the bird’s journey to the sea. Other native animals appear throughout the book, as the narrative reveals them in their natural habitats. In the suburbs and city of Melbourne, animals live alongside people. As the sun sets, Bunjil flies across the bay. Wilam is a visually attractive educational book for children, suitable for preschoolers and young readers aged 4-8. Containing Woiwurrung language and Aboriginal storytelling, with a strong ecological theme, this picture book will appeal to parents and primary school teachers. And, since 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, Wilam will also be sought after by libraries.

Karen Wyld is a freelance writer and author


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