Aunty Fay Muir & Sue Lawson (text) and Lisa Kennedy (illustrator), Respect, Magabala Books, May 2020, 32 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781925936315
Our way is old,
older than red earth,
older than flickering stars.
Our way is respect.
So begins this beautiful, quiet, rhythmic reflection on the lessons that can be learned from ancestors, elders, and stories. It explains what respect means for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but in doing so imparts principles that all young people will hopefully aspire to.
The rhythm, repetition and vibrant illustrations make it a perfect read for snuggling up with young children. The message — that we need to listen, learn and share — is timeless and relevant to homes and schools alike. I think I will read this book on the first day of school to every class I teach from now on. I’ve long forgone creating lists of rules at the start of the year. I prefer to just ask students to agree to adhere to the values of respect for themselves, each other, and the environment — values that are echoed perfectly in the final sentence of this book: We respect Country, each other, me.
Respect presents a code that everyone can live by — and it does so in a poetic and visually delicious package. It’s a history lesson, a cultural lesson, and a universal creed rolled into one perfect picture book. I love it.
Reviewed by Liz Patterson