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Aboriginal owned and led, Magabala Books, who operate out of Broome in Western Australia, is Australia’s leading Indigenous publishing house. Not only do they bring some of the most beautiful stories to print, but they are passionate about protecting the cultural and intellectual property rights of all of their creators.
This means that anyone who buys a Magabala publication also has the comfort of knowing that they are purchasing an ethically published book, where Indigenous peoples hold copyright in their stories and there is a return of benefits to them and/or their communities.
Aboriginal owned and led, Magabala Books is Australia’s leading Indigenous publishing house.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement, globally has highlighted that in 2020 racism is alive and well. And in Australia that is no different.
Since 1991, 432 Indigenous Australians have died in custody. It’s shameful truth.
Marches across the nation have seen Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people sharing their experiences with racism from micro-aggressions to blatant mistreatment, and the stories of The Stolen Generation and the generational trauma that followed are no longer being swept under the rug. It seems like, finally people are listening.
Never before has it been clearer that , intentional or not, perhaps any given white person has subconsciously said something or actioned something in a way skewed towards systematic racism. The time has come for everyone to acknowledge that and commit to change. And it begins with simply being aware.
Resources like podcasts, literature, documentaries and movies all exist and are accessible for all Australians to take the time to ensure we build on our knowledge of the Indigenous culture and history of this land.
And there’s no better place to begin than with the incredible stories published by Magabala Books. You can see some of our favourites from their picture book collection in the gallery below …
Mad Magpie by Gregg Dreise RRP $24.95
Mad Magpie is the third book in this successful series of morality tales from award-winning author and illustrator, Gregg Dreise.
Inspired by wise sayings and the knowledge of his Elders, Mad Magpie tells the story of Guluu, an angry magpie who is being teased by a gang of butcher birds.
The more he is teased, the angrier he becomes. When Guluu seeks advice, his Elders tell him to stay calm like the river, ignore the butcher birds and to be strong on the inside.
Guluu tries this, but the cheeky birds just laugh at him.
One day, when Guluu is at the river looking for worms, the butcher birds arrive and steal his food. He remembers the words of his Elders and he tries again – and this time Guluu has a different outcome.
Other titles by Gregg Dreise include: Cunning Crow, Kookoo Kookaburra and Silly Birds.
Alfie’s Big Wish by David Hardy RRP $17.95
In David Hardy’s beautifully illustrated new picture book we join a young boy, Alfie, on a quest for companionship.
When at first his friends leave with their parents, he searches high and low for somebody new to play with.
Sad and lonely at the end of the day, Alfie makes a big wish. When he wakes up, he finds out that sometimes wishes really do come true!
Other titles by David Hardy include: On the way to Nanas and Alfie’s Search for Destiny.
Silly Birds by Gregg Dreise RRP $24.95
In this charming and humorous morality tale, Maliyan, a proud eagle meets a turkey, Wagun, who is a silly bird, and together these two new friends begin to do silly-bird things.
The Elders and Maliyan’s parents are very disappointed, warning Maliyan that it’s hard to soar like an eagle when you are surrounded by turkeys.
Maliyan sees the error of his ways and together with the other animals, works to clean up the mess wrought by too many silly birds. But some birds will always be silly…
Other titles by Gregg Dreise include: Cunning Crow, Kookoo Kookaburra and Mad Magpie.
The Little Corroboree Frog by Tracey Holton-Ramirez and illustrated by Angela Ramirez RRP $14.95
The Little Corroborree Frog gently introduces the serious plight of one of Australia’s most endangered species.
Jet the corroboree frog is happily taking care of the tadpole ponds when the water starts to dry up and his family’s eggs are threatened.
He goes to visit Grandmother Frog to find out why and she tells him about the summers that are getting hotter and the careless humans who are leaving their rubbish around.
When a boy and his father arrive to go fishing in the nearby river, Jet seizes the opportunity to show them how humans are threatening the very existence of his species.
Little Bird’s Day by Sally Morgan and illustrated by Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr RRP $24.99
A simple, universal story of a day in the life of Little Bird as she sings the world alive, flies with Cloud, travels with Wind, nestles with Moon and dreams of flying among the stars.
Sally’s beautiful words and Johnny’s sensitive artwork combine to make this a beautiful, distinctive publication with global appeal.
Johnny infuses his illustrations with his fine-art aesthetic, his traditional motifs and a quirky sense of humour.
Going to the Footy by Debbie Coombes RRP $19.99
In this quintessentially Australian title, Going to the Footy combines richly textured and striking illustrations of iconic Australian modes of transport, with some gentle humour.
This strikingly beautiful book for Early Childhood will captivate young children and older readers alike.
The highly original artwork of Debbie Coombes in a vibrant Tiwi style, will showcase many different ways to get ‘to the footy’.
Whether you go to the footy in a tinny, a troopy or on a barge, this book is unforgettable.
Cunning Crow by Gregg Dreise RRP $24.99
Way back, before once-upon-a-time, there was the Dreamtime when all the birds were white. One of those white birds was a crow called Waan.
One day a big storm came through and a magnificent rainbow appeared.
When the birds passed through the rainbow, one by one, their feathers took on its beautiful colours. Waan flew through the rainbow too and his feathers became a beautiful red and orange.
But Waan was jealous of the other birds. He wanted to be more beautifully coloured than anyone. So Waan hatched a cunning plan. But things did not go the way Waan wanted…
“Cunning Crow is inspired by a very old story about the opal on my Grandmother’s Country. It reminds us about beauty, about embracing differences, about not judging others’ appearances and being content with who we are.” says Gregg Dreise.
Other titles by Gregg Dreise include: Silly Birds, Kookoo Kookaburra and Mad Magpie.
Counting our Country by Jill Daniels RRP $12.99
Counting our Country is a bilingual counting book from Jill Daniels, a Ritharrŋu and Madarrpa artist who lives in Ngukurr in South-East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.
Jill’s paintings of animals found on her country celebrate her distinctive style and bold use of colour.
Children will love counting the animals from 1 to 10 as they turn the pages.
Each double-page spread features the name of the animal in Ritharrŋu, Jill’s traditional language, and in English.
A guide on ‘How to pronounce the Ritharrŋu animal names’ appears at the back of the book and encourages readers and young children to see if they can say them.
Counting our Country recognises the value of developing cultural literacy by introducing language and art in the early years.
Baby Business by Jasmine Seymour RRP $24.99
Warm smoke from the fire on your mouth. Keep our language on your tongue. Our words are the song of our ancestors and show the pathway to Dreaming.
Baby Business tells the story of a Darug baby smoking ceremony that welcomes baby to country.
The smoke is a blessing – it will protect the baby and remind them that they belong. This beautiful ritual is recounted in a way young children will completely relate to and is enhanced by gentle illustrations.
Darug language words are integrated throughout, with a glossary at the back.
Central to this stunning book is a message of connection to Country and the need to care for it.
Brother Moon by Maree McCarthy Yoelu and illustrated by Samantha Fry
Brother Moon is a powerful story lovingly told by a great-grandfather to his great-grandson.
Beneath the dark sky of the Northern Territory, Hippy-Boy is captivated when Great-Grandpa Liman tells him the mysterious story of his brother and how it guides his connection to Country.
Great-Grandpa is a masterful storyteller and, as the tale unfolds, he finally reveals his brother is the moon — a wonder of the universe. Hippy-Boy learns how his greatgrandfather uses the phases of the moon when he goes hunting and fishing, and why it is important for us all to have an understanding of the natural world.
Liman (Harry Morgan), the author’s grandfather, was a respected Wadjigany man — a leader amongst his people and the community. Liman was born at Manjimamany in the Northern Territory in 1916. He was a canoe maker, hunter, community mediator, and a family man who lived off the land and travelled the seas. Liman spoke Batjamalh, his first language, and other languages from the Daly River area.
Other titles by Samantha Fry: Alfred’s War
My Lost Mob by Venetia Tyson RRP $12.95
This captivating picture book follows an emu who has lost his mob.
Across rich and varied landscapes he roams, encountering a myriad of Australian animals, from Kangaroos to Cassowarys…
But where will he find his lost mob? With simple language and charming illustrations, this book is sure to be read time and again.
Mum’s Elephant by Maureen Jipiyiliya Nampijinpa O’Keefe and illustrated by Christina Booth
Maureen RRP $17.99
Jipiyiliya Nampijinpa O’Keefe grew up in the remote community of Ali Curung in the NT.
Her family lived a bush life. They didn’t own much but her mother had a very special ‘elephant’.
It was her mother’s most prized possession and she gave it tender loving care.
When her mother’s friends were around, they had tea-parties with the elephant. Often her mother would sleep with it beside her bed.
Christina Booth’s splendid illustrations of desert landscapes and bush life deepen the mystery of the elephant, only revealing subtle clues to its true identity.
The reader is beguiled by the storytelling until the elephant is finally revealed.
Maureen Jipiyiliya Nampijinpa O’Keefe is a natural storyteller and conveys warmth and humour in her writing.
Mum’s Elephant will intrigue children and remind adult readers of the simple things that held a special charm when they were young.
On the way to Nana’s by Frances Haji-Ali Lindsay Haji-Ali and illustrated by David Hardy RRP $17.99
Frances and Lindsay Haji-Ali take us counting backwards from 15 to 1 on this spectacular journey in the far north of WA.
When Frances and Lindsay lived with their family in Broome, they often set out to visit Nana in the tiny outback town of Wyndham over 1,000 km north.
These road trips took them across the magnificent Kimberley landscape and inspired this counting story. From bulbous boabs and wild brumbies to weary travellers, flying magpie geese and flowing waterfalls,
David Hardy’s striking illustrations capture the awe and excitement of this special family adventure.
Respect by Fay Stewart-Muir Sue Lawson and illustrated by Lisa Kennedy RRP $24.99
Respect is the first title in the ‘Our Place’ series of four children’s picture books which welcome and introduce children to important elements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
Respect whispers a soft and heartfelt message about the basic cultural principle that informs all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations throughout Australia.
Respect is about a way of life that is older than flickering stars, about stories that shimmer through tall grasses, and redgum leaves that tumble to a parched and red earth.
It teaches children the importance of family who show the way and how we need to listen, learn and share.
This eloquent and delicate story shows young and old alike, what Respect looks like for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
What do you call a baby…? Illustrated by Kamsani Bin Salleh RRP $12.99
What do you call a baby…? is an entertaining way for all children to learn the nouns that describe some of our iconic Australian baby animals.
Baby frogs are called tadpoles, but what do we call a baby goanna, a baby eagle, or a baby echidna? This stunning title introduces young children to their amazing names — hatchling, eaglet and puggle.
Kamsani Bin Salleh’s exquisite illustrations and pastel colour palette captures the tender bond of an animal ‘parent and baby’ and makes this little book a truly delightful journey of discovery.
WATCH: The dreamtime story of the creation of the Murray River, is now an animated, digital touch book