The voices of this land: Australian Picture Books

A relatively unusual occurrence until recently, the publication of a plethora of new Australian Aboriginal-authored and/or Aboriginal-themed children’s books has begun transforming the Australian publishing landscape. A number of these books, like Rhoda Lalara and Alfred Lalara’s charmingly evocative Yirruwa Yirrilikenuma-langwa (When We Go Walkabout: Allen & Unwin, $24.99 hb, 32 pp, 9781743314562), are rendered bilingually, in the latter case in Anindilyakwa, the mother tongue of the majority of Groote Eylandt residents, as well as in English.

Such books bring breadth to what historically has been a poorly served field. While an air of reverence often surrounds the publication of such books, in some instances they present reviewers with a critical and ethical challenge in terms of their variable quality. This exceeds any simplistically framed quandary on the part of the reviewer about whether to be, or not to be, ‘politically correct’ in terms of one’s critical reception. That may be one question but it is not the question.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in December 2014, no. 367
Christine Nicholls

Christine Nicholls

Christine Nicholls is a writer, curator, and Senior Lecturer in Australian Studies at Flinders University. She is well published in the fields of Indigenous Australian languages and Indigenous Australian artistic practice. (Photograph by Digby Duncan.)

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.