Bruce Pascoe (text) and Charmaine Ledden-Lewis (illustrator), Found, Magabala Books, August 2020, 38 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781925936483
Magabala Books continue to perform a needed and laudable service to Indigenous writers and illustrators with this latest addition to their impressive catalogue. Found is a story of family and belonging. Each double page spread is a gorgeous ink and pen washed colour illustration featuring the countryside and animals of the far north of Australia. Charmaine Ledden-Lewis has been awarded the Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award for her work on this book, and the award is well deserved. The story follows the distress of a small calf being taken from her mother and pitched into the back of a truck. This particular calf manages to jump out of the truck on a patch of desert track that looks a lot like the Tanamai Track. The calf sets out on an epic journey to find her mother, along the way meeting the horses and camels that live off this land, and finally reaching her mother who is depicted with loving brushstrokes.
The hand-drawn text is minimal, while still saying all that is needed about the pain suffered in such an experience and the joy recovered when a family is reunited.
The larger context for such a story is the history of Australia’s stolen generations, and the message of the book must be that if we can sympathise with a calf being torn from its mother, then surely that would translate to how we feel about our own welfare systems doing much the same and worse to tiny Aboriginal children for decades. It is this emotional lesson that is perhaps most important to this book, and most present in its marvellous illustrations that recall the colours, the drama, and the history of the far north of our continent.
Recommended for children 2 to 6 years old, and parents just starting out to be parents.
Reviewed by Kevin Brophy