ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Gagudju is a variant spelling of Kakadu, and this informative and colourful book takes the reader for a day in the monsoon forest on the edge of a billabong. The narrator explains the surroundings - the trees and plants, birds and lizards and waterlife - by using the Kundjeyhmi words and sharing generous local knowledge of the way the creatures and plants fit into the whole. Interspersed throughout the text, small thumbnail illustrations are labelled with the English names, which serves the purpose of translating language but also of not interrupting the stories being told. They also convey the questions and stories of the people who are exploring the mangroves. Illustrations in ink and watercolour spread over the landscape format pages, and are full of detail and energy and naturalistic hues, and there are small stories playing out for the observant reader. A glossary/index at the back is useful for additional information. A fine resource particularly for lower primary age children, but worthy of any reader's attention! Lindy
DIANE LUCAS grew up exploring the bush in New South Wales. She moved to Kakadu in her late twenties. There she worked as a schoolteacher on an Aboriginal outstation and in turn was taught many things about the bush. From 1991 to 1996, Diane worked on a research project in Kakadu, documenting traditional resources on the South Alligator River floodplain and surrounds. She was encouraged by the elders to write about the land and get stories to children. They have supported her efforts as an educator with her children's books, the first being Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu. Since then she has had six other publications. She now lives only two hours from Kakadu, with her husband, and maintains a close relationship with the people and country of Kakadu. She and her husband travel in northern Australia and Africa doing botanical and fire ecology work. Diane is inspired by wild landscapes and the cultural context of these places, and the way children explore and play in wild habitats with such ease. She does much of her writing as she travels and walks in the bush. BEN TYLER is a Bininj entrepreneur and founder of bush food brand Kakadu Kitchen. He currently lives in Darwin on Larrakeya country, studying business at Charles Darwin University. On his breaks he returns home to Kakadu to visit his mum and family at their remote family outstation at Patonga Homestead, located beside the Jim Jim Creek in Kakadu National Park. Ben loves gardening with his mum Jessie, and both were very happy when his sister Mandy discovered her green thumb during the Northern Territory's Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020. Mandy now teaches her grandsons Anthony and Tyrese to love gardening too. The Kakadu billabong family community enjoy growing many types of tropical fruits and vegetables like pawpaw, banana, tomatoes, broccoli, citrus trees, mangoes, cashews, custard apples, tamarind and bush foods like red apple, white apple and native lemongrass. The community includes close relatives from Tiwi Islands and has always been a place that welcomes family, friends and visitors into their busy, noisy, joyful billabong home in Kakadu. An accomplished artist, EMMA LONG has exhibited regularly in group and solo exhibitions across the Northern Territory. Her passion for creative arts has led her to work as an art educator in secondary schools as well as pursue a Bachelor of Visual Arts, a Certificate in Printmaking and a Graduate Diploma of Education. She is inspired by the fresh, raw beauty of nature and feels most at home in the bush with a brush in hand. Emma lives in Darwin with her husband and four children and continues to work as an illustrator and an art educator.
'[A] luscious book about one of Australia's most beautiful ecosystems...Long's detailed line and watercolour double-page spreads magnificently portray vast landscapes as backdrops to magnified close-ups of many species...the spreads teeming with movement, while highlighted terms in the text provide prominence and clarity. This information-laden book, complete with glossary, brims with life, beauty and magic. It is a delightful read for primary school children, introducing the Gagudju bush and underscoring the importance of respecting and advocating for the environment.' Romi Sharp, Books+Publishing '[F]ascinating...accessible and vibrant...[The] sharing of language is presented in such a smooth and clever way throughout: the Kundjeyhmi words are highlighted within the text in bright colours alongside an image of the referenced item, and the English word is also located nearby in the corresponding colour. This is all supported by a glossary found at the back of the book. Presented in such a way that allows young readers to learn as they enjoy, this is a story that encourages respect for and harmony with nature.' Claire Atherfold, READINGS