Children’s Book Review: Review: Back On Country

The third installment of the series of illustrated books Welcome to our country, back in the country it is a celebration of family, culture and country.

In this stunning collaborative picture book between Adnyamathanha and Narungga author Adam Goodes, author and communications professional Ellie Laing, and Barkindji illustrator David Hardy, we meet Lucy and David as they travel to see their grandparents in Country: Adnyamathanha Country.

They meet relatives, visit important family landmarks, and learn about their culture and history, bringing readers with them on the journey. It feels intimate and special, as if the readers have also been invited along for the ride.

The story is based on Goodes and Hardy’s own experience of going back to the field: coming back to reconnect with the people and places that make us who we are. It is a soft story, but very captivating. It’s the kind of book that reaches the end before you realize you’ve gotten there, leaving you wanting more.

A wonderful learning experience for children and their families. A gift of knowledge and learning. With the Adnyamathanha language used throughout, the book also introduces children to new words, supporting them with definitions woven into the story or illustrations. It is a very immersive way of learning. It is invisible and a learning that does not stop the story at any time. The impressive endpapers are supportive too, with Adnyamathanha and English words side by side and matching illustrations to help cement ideas.

Hardy’s illustrations are stunning, presented in a modern and engaging style that brings the landscape and characters to life. The colors are rich, bright and inviting. They are everything that feels like home.

This book (and its series) is powerful and important. Through knowledge we can learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Through knowledge we can connect with each other. And I don’t know about you, but I find stories explored together, particularly picture books, to be the perfect way to share, learn, and grow. Our age doesn’t matter.

This is a great book for classrooms and is supported by comprehensive teaching notes provided on the publisher’s website. Be sure to also check out the other great books in this series: Ceremony Y someone’s land.

Title: back in the country
Author: Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing
Illustrator: david hard
Editor: Allen and Unwin, $24.99
Publication date: 1 November 2022
Format: Hard-cover
ISBN: 9781761065088
By ages: 4+
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