The First Scientists (Corey Tutt, illus by Blak Douglas, Hardie Grant)
In The First Scientists, Corey Tutt, founder of the Deadly Science charity and NSW Young Person of the Year 2020, brings us an extremely engaging, informative and at times funny account of the much-overlooked contribution of early First Nations people to various scientific fields. The text is presented in loosely chronological segments including First Astronomers, First Engineers, First Forensic Scientists and First Chemists. Within the sections each double-page spread is devoted to a concept or object, ranging from boomerangs and bush medicine to bushfire control and cane toads. Each brightly coloured spread includes a map illustrating the community or communities referenced in the text passage. This cleverly and succinctly demonstrates that disparate First Nations communities concurrently employed similar practices. The final sections explore the work of present day First Nations scientists and encourage young readers to become involved in STEM. Tutt’s experience writing for children (he writes for K-Zone magazine) is evident. The text is lively and engaging while still managing to convey a significant amount of information. Although Tutt has edited two books under the Deadly Science brand for Australian Geographic, this is his first—but hopefully not last—solo effort. Perfect for budding scientists aged 8–12, the text concludes with a rousing call to arms: ‘So what are you waiting for? Get out there and do some deadly science. Be inspired, be wowed, be amazed, but most importantly be deadly!’
Hannah Gardiner has been a bookseller since 2005 and currently works as a children’s buyer. She speaks to Tutt here.