Main Abija My Grandad (Karen Rogers, A&U)
Written as a tribute to the author and artist Karen Rogers’s grandfather, who was instrumental in teaching her about her ancestry and Country, this picture book is a celebration of generational ties and a look at Rogers’s childhood in a remote Northern Territory community. Rogers comes from Ngukurr Community in South East Arnhem Land and thus Main Abija My Grandad is a bilingual book, with the text in both Kriol and English. As a child, she spent the school holidays with her beloved grandpa who worked as a stockman at his outstation. He taught her how to find sugarbag honey, as well as to hunt and fish. He carried her on his shoulders and looked after her when her mother was taken ill. When Rogers had a family of her own, her daughter, too, spent time with this great man and teacher. Sadly, he’s since passed away but now that Rogers is a great-grandmother she’s mindful of passing on the same traditions to her own grandkids. The pictures in Main Abija, of land and native animals, are vibrant and joyful, with text on one side over different bright panels and illustrations on the other. It’s a book about kinship and keeping familiar rituals in the family, out of respect and love.
Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer, and the books editor of the Big Issue.