Cooee mittigar by Jasmine Seymour
Illus. by Leanne Mulgo Watson. Magabala Books, 2019. ISBN:
(Age: All) Highly recommended. Themes: Indigenous people, Darug (Sydney region), Songlines, Dreaming stories, Indigenous language. Songlines, Dreaming stories which connect peoples across Australia, are introduced in this stunning book, with Darug words alongside English, reinforcing the endurance of the Darug language and culture.
Seymour, author of the lovely Baby business (2019) introduces the reader to the world of the Darug and the stories that tell the listeners of the seasons and what happens in each, reminding them of the things they can do in that time. The story encapsulate the Darug way of life, their environment, the animals that live in the Sydney region, the peoples who remain in the area. Darug words are used within the English text, and readers will be able to work out what they mean although translations are included at the bottom of each page. A swag of words will be learnt while reading this tale, as Mulgo the black swan welcomes the reader inviting them to begin their yana through the land.
Watson's enticing illustrations are produced with digital collage using mixed media, mono prints, stencils and acrylic painting. I love the earthy colours offered on each page, the plethora of animals hidden amongst the leaves of the stencilled background, reflecting Australian flora, the flowers often picked out in acrylic, vibrant and full of colour. I love the use of dots, so entwined with Aboriginal artistry, with the dingoes, brolgas, wombats and birds. Readers will appreciate the glossary at the end of the book, showing Darug language, followed by a page of information about the Darug people and another about the author and illustrator, proud Darug women working for their communities.