This is a lovely informative picture book about Darug country and Darug Songlines, told by Mulgo, the black swan. This book has been shortlisted in the Award for New Illustrator’s category.
A songline is also called a dreaming track, and it is one of the paths across the land (or sometimes the sky) which mark the route followed by one of the "creator-beings" or ancestors during the Dreaming. The paths of the songlines are recorded in traditional song cycles, stories, dance, and art, and are often the basis of ceremonies. They are a vital part of Aboriginal culture, connecting people to their land.
Mulgo welcomes us to Darug Nuru (The Sydney area country), and walks us through the songlines of the land, through the seasons. Mulgo tells this story in both English and Darug language. There is a helpful glossary on each page of the Darug words used on that page, so you don’t have to keep flicking to the glossary at the back.
On each spread Mulgo describes the animals along the songlines, and their habitat, and the flora.
This book is a gentle reminder that Aboriginal dreaming and songlines have always been in the greater Sydney basin, still are and always will be.
At the end of the book, Jasmine says protection of Country, encompassing their culture, stories and language is important to the original custodians of the land and to everyone. They want to share the richness of their culture with everyone who visits Darug Nuru.
At the back of the book we learn “Jasmine Seymour is a Darug woman belonging to the Boorooberongal people of the Dyirabun-Hawkesbury region of New South Wales and a descendent of the Aboriginal community that was devastated by colonists soon after their arrival in 1788”.
Jasmine is an author and illustrator. Jasmine is the author and illustrator of “Baby Business”, shortlisted this year in the very same category. She has also illustrated a picture book published this year called “Family” by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson.
Leanne Mulgo Watson is also a Darug woman from the Boorooberongal people of the Dyirabun - Hawkesbury region of New South Wales. She is an artist-educator and works with educational facilities, museums and cultural groups. This is her first book. Leanne says “I had always wanted to create books to share our knowledge, as education is the key to our culture staying strong”. Leanne created her illustrations for this book using acrylic painting, mono prints and stencil printing, turned into digital collage. Leanne chose colours that reflect the landscape and environment.
The illustrations tell the story in Cooee Mittigar just as well as the text. Leanne’s love for her country and culture shine through her emotive illustrations.