Respect (Aunty Fay Muir & Sue Lawson, illus by Lisa Kennedy, Magabala)
Dream team Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson, who previously brought us the excellent Nganga: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander words and phrases, have collaborated with artist Lisa Kennedy to deliver this absolutely exquisite picture book. In Respect, the first book in Magabala’s Our Place series—the aim of which is to welcome children to Aboriginal culture—Muir and Lawson’s sparse text is offset by Kennedy’s luminous images, which come alive on the page. We follow a young girl as she learns the importance of respecting nature, Country, her heritage and her elders. As her grandmother tells her: ‘Our way is old, older than red earth, older than flickering stars. Our way is respect.’ Kennedy blends past, present and future in her evocative imagery, which is redolent of traditional illustrative techniques while also envisioning the future of Aboriginal art and culture. Mixing motifs reminiscent of cave paintings with modern illustrations, the visual depictions underscore Muir and Lawson’s text about the enduring importance of respecting elders and the ways of the past, as well as respecting others and, importantly, yourself: ‘Our way is respect. We listen. Learn. Share. We respect Country, each other, me.’ The simple text and bold, bright imagery make this picture book perfect for readers aged 3–6.
Hannah Gardiner has a master of arts and a master of research in children’s literature, and works as a children’s book buyer