From stories from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women around Australia to the career memoir of Australia’s first male Indigenous ballet dancer, 2017 has brought a plethora of enchanting books.
Here’s just a selection of some of the new books that have found their way onto bookstore and library shelves – perfect for holiday reading …
By Beryl Webber. Illustrations by Fern Martins. Published by Magabala Books. RRP $17.99. Available from bookshops and from Magabala online.
This hot-off-the-press children’s book with beautiful illustrations of crocodiles, dragonflies, brolgas, frogs and more celebrates northern Australia as it waits for the first rain. The book is the first by Beryl Webber, who is descended from the Gunggari people of southern Queensland. Illustrator Fern Martins is a descendent of the Ngarabul people of northern New South Wales and the Waki Waki people of Queensland.
By Lorrae Coffin. Illustrations by Bronwyn Houston. Published by Magabala Books. RRP $17.99. Available from bookshops and Magabala online.
Beautiful shades of blue for the water juxtapose with the red of the land; a tribute to the Indigenous men and women who worked as free divers during the early years of Western Australia’s pearling industry, facing sharks, the bends and huge tides. The lyrical narrative is based on the song ‘Free Diving’ by singer-songwriter Lorrae Coffin, a descendent of the Nyiyaparli and Yindijibarndi people of WA’s Pilbara.
By Josie Boyle. Illustrations by Maggie Prewett. Published by Magabala Books. RRP $17.99. Available from bookshops and Magabala online.
The story of a group of desert children who invite their school teacher, Mrs White, home for dinner to show her why their homework is always grubby. It’s told through the words of Josie Wowolla Boyle, a Wonghi woman from Western Australia, and the pictures of Maggie Prewett, a descendent of the Ngarluma people of WA’s Pilbara.
By Frances and Lindsay Haji-Ali. Illustrations by David Hardy. RRP $17.99. Available from bookshops and Magabala online.
Illustrator David Hardy, a descendent of the Barkindji people of north-west NSW, has worked in feature films with Walt Disney Animation Studios — and it shows in his polished illustrations that bring this story to life. Authors Frances and Lindsay Haji-Ali drew on their childhood experiences of travelling more than a thousand kilometres from Broome to Wyndham to visit their grandmother. Along the way there are boabs, brumbies, geese and waterfalls.
By Kamsani Bin Salleh. RRP $9.99. Available from bookstores and Magabala online.
An early childhood book showing scuttling crabs, dancing jellyfish, shells, seaweed and more, illustrated by Kamsani Bin Salleh, a descendent of the Nimunburr, Bunuba and Yawuru peoples of the Kimberley and the Ballardong Noongar people of Perth.
ADULTS’ NON FICTION:
By Rhonda Collard-Spratt, with Jackie Ferro. Published by Aboriginal Studies Press. $34.95.
The coming-of-age story of Rhonda Collard-Spratt, Yamatji and Noongar elder, talented poet and artist. In 1954 at the age of three, Ms Collard-Spratt was taken from her mother and sent to the Carnarvon Native Mission. Her memoir tells of her search for her culture and family in the face of violence, racism, foster families and her father’s death in custody.
By Noel Tovey. Published by Magabala Books. RRP $33. Available from bookshops and Magabala online.
The autobiographical story of Australia’s first male Indigenous ballet dancer, Noel Tovey, who forged a successful career in Australia and the United Kingdom despite growing up amidst entrenched poverty, abuse and neglect. And Then I Found Me covers Tovey’s three decades in London as an actor, singer, dancer, choreographer, director and curator. The book follows his 2006 memoir, Little Black Bastard, which chronicled his life from childhood to a career on the international stage.
Edited by Pat Dudgeon, Jeannie Herbert, Jill Milroy and Darlene Oxenham. Published by Magabala Books. RRP $35. Available from bookshops and Magabala Books.
A collection of stories from women around Australia, many of whom were raised in small isolated communities. The book seeks to honour the diverse perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Its editors are all renowned Aboriginal academics.