Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing (text) and David Hardy (illustrator), Ceremony, Allen & Unwin, April 2022, 24 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781761065064
This is a landmark book. Former AFL great and 2014 Australian of the Year, Adnyamathanha and Narungga man, Adam Goodes has teamed up with the committed Ellie Laing and Barkindji man David Hardy to produce a book that introduces the Adnyamathanha people of the Flinders Ranges through a story of preparations for a local ceremony.
The story revolves around one of the cheeky children, and the general antics and mishaps that cause laughter for the family along the way. The story is told in vigorous rhyming couplets, ideal for reading aloud. And most importantly the text takes up the local language, using terms that are translated for the reader on the end papers of the book. The lively illustrations have the animated and cartoon qualities of a Disney production, for David Hardy cut his teeth as an illustrator with the Walt Disney Studios.
As readers, we might have become used to books from within Aboriginal cultures taking up the styles of Indigenous art to which we are so accustomed. This book, on the other hand, offers much detail of Aboriginal life and character through a style that will grab a wide readership immediately.
The fun-loving humour of the book is also such an attractive element that its purpose to instruct us in language can be easily accommodated. A bonus is the QR code that shares the story through Adam Goodes’ narration, pronouncing the words of his people’s language. Highly recommended for young readers three to nine years.
Reviewed by Kevin Brophy