Adam Goode and Ellie Laing (text) and David Hardy (illustrator), Somebody’s Land, Allen & Unwin, November 2021, 24 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760526726
This, the first of five books, is a great start to the Welcome to Our Country series, which aims to champion Australian First Nations culture for children, parents, and educators. The creators hope to build on the acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land where we all live and to invite us all to walk in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.
There are two constant refrains throughout the book. The first reminds the reader that Aboriginal people have lived here for thousands and thousands of years; building homes, telling stories, caring for their environment, hunted and so on. The second part of the refrain tells us that when the white people came, they called it Terra Nullius. They said it was nobody’s land, but it was somebody’s land. Young readers will enjoy these chorus lines with the opportunity to help the reading. Newly independent readers will be supported by the refrains as they navigate through the book.
Each repetition of the two sections is well supported by Hardy’s lively and humorous illustrations showing different perspectives of traditional life. The illustrations are typical of those found in animated film and games, reflecting Hardy’s previous (and continuing) occupation in film. His illustrations reflect Aboriginal respect for the land and their understanding of how it works, and on the opposite page how everyone fits and what changes were made.
The final double spread detailing a multi-cultural urban environment, includes the three creators. It was Aboriginal land. It is Aboriginal land. It always will be Aboriginal land.
Highly recommended for all readers, and a wonderful way to start conversations.
Reviewed by Maureen Mann