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.

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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.)