by Diane Lucas, Ben Tyler, Emma Long
Just letting you know our new book was released in June 2021. Published by Allen & Unwin
Join Ben and Diane for a walk through Gagudju country.
As they walk, with their children, in the monsoon forest they share stories about the land and relate stories elders have passed to them.
Ben is a local Gagudju person of Kakadu, the land they walk.
Emma embellishes this story with her wonderful paintings.
The cost will is $29.95 – Click here to purchase
The writing of this book came from a walk together and the sharing of stories both Ben and I have in our learnings and memories. As we walked with a friend in a monsoon forest we recalled stories and experiences relating to trees and animals, birds, insects, hunting and gathering, stories from the elders of past times and some dreaming stories. This intrigued our friend and so we wrote the story. My children have walked with me and Aboriginal elders, many whom have passed away now, but they have learned and retained stories of the land from walking with these elders. Ben has lived on his country and experienced the storytelling from elders. Together Ben and I have walked the land and shared ideas and stories for many years. We met Emma, who also lives in the NT and is inspired by the natural world. She shares her love of the natural world while walking with her children and paints her observations into beautiful illustrations. Together we bring this collaborative story to you.
Shortlisted for the Wilderness Society awards: Karajia and Environment Award for Children’s Literature This inaugural award celebrates excellence in children’s literature by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island authors and/or illustrators who honour Connection to Country and tell stories exploring land, Community, Culture and Language.
Royal Zoological Society of NSW – Winner of Whitley Commendation Award – Cultural Zoology for Children
Children’s Book Council Awards Shortlisted Book
“Combining their expertise in and passion for botanical work, wild landscapes and the culture of the Top End bush, authors Diane Lucas and Ben Tyler join with illustrator Emma Long to share this luscious book about one of Australia’s most beautiful ecosystems. Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the monsoon forest is dedicated to the Elders and the people of the Gagudju (or Kakadu) area, the nonfiction narrative encompassing a walk in the unique ecosystem of the monsoon forest in the Northern Territory’s Kakadu National Park. The book is narrated through dialogue paired with illustrated avatars of the authors, the text inclusive of the Kundjeyhmi language of the Bininj people. Long’s detailed line and watercolour double-page spreads magnificently portray vast landscapes as backdrops to magnified close-ups of many species, such as kabo (green ants), midjakkur (monsoon forest vine), merle-merle (butterflies) and more. Pops of red and blue add warmth to the vibrant shades of green and brown, the spreads teeming with movement, while highlighted terms in the text provide prominence and clarity. This information-laden book, complete with glossary, brims with life, beauty and magic. It is a delightful read for primary school children, introducing the Gagudju bush and underscoring the importance of respecting and advocating for the environment.”
– Books & Publishing reviewer Romi Sharp is a picture book writer and digital marketer for children’s authors and publishers.
“Walk with us through one of the Top End’s magnificent monsoon forests, in Kakadu National Park, learning about the plants, animals and Kundjeyhmi culture along the way.
This is an invitation that I couldn’t resist. Heading of into the forest on the edge of the billabong, we come across a treeful of altheyberre, white bush apples, which are a little sour but delicious. There’s a maya maya, a shining flycatcher, on her nest and a lok lok, a skink. among the leaves. But better not go into the water as there could be a kinga, a saltwater crocodile, blowing bubbles in there. Later, we come across a huge red termite nest which we leave alone just in case it is one of the special ones that is used for ceremonies. So much to see and do and listen to. There are special tall trees that could be hollowed out to make canoes so that goose eggs can be collected and people can even travel to other nearby islands. We do a bit of digging until we find some cheeky yams in the shallow soil. We’ll cook them later in a billy over a little fire. We’ll gather some kurrak, freshwater mussels, and cook them in the hot coals. There is so much more to tell you about this wonderful trip. It has opencd my eyes to the richness of our country and the incredible love and knowledge of our Indigenous Australians. And Emma Long’s art is so wonderfully detailed and so utterly beautiful that I found myself mesmerised as I turned the pages. I hope you and your children enjoy every page as I have.”
– Merle Morcom, Good Reading Magazine
“When a walk through the forest becomes an opportunity to learn about the secrets of what grows and lives there, and to tell and hear the stories of its past peoples, you never know how long you will be, what you will hear or what you will see. For this forest in Kakadu in the Northern Territory contains more riches than a pirate’s treasure trove with its plant life, insects, birds and creatures, their inter-connections and the stories they bring with them. Old man Kapirigi says, “You gotta watch those birds”, (the djuwe or northern bower bird} “they’ll steal your bones out of the cave when you die.” Combining their knowledge of and passion for the land and its stories, the authors have created a text that carries the reader along with its narrative while being laden with the most remarkable information, embedding the Kundjeyhml language in so naturally that the English equivalents seem so bland and boring in comparison. And Emma Long’s line and watercolour drawings that span full page spreads down to tiny vignettes are just sublime, highlighting just how busy even a tiny leaf can be if we take the time to look and listen. Rather than using conventional speech indicators, an avatar depicts the speaker as they point out something or tell a story and the whole just becomes an engaging read and learning experience that makes you want to go out to really embrace and inhale the nearest bit of garden you can find. Just because we can’t get to Kakadu right now doesn’t mean we can’t learn the lessons of observation, appreciation and conservation that this book offers. There is so much more than we usually see to discover – a new world that fits in perfectly with this year’s CBCA Book Week theme. Lucas’s first book, Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu, published over 15 years ago led the way to opening up this land to our young readers so they could begin to understand its ancient stories and those who shared them and this stunning book continues the tradition. Look for it in the CBCA 2022 Eve Pownall Notables because it certainly deserves a place there.”
– The Bottom Shelf, Great Books for Little People