Title: Main Abija, My Grandad
Author: Karen Rogers
Published: March 2021
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Readership: Children’s Picturebook
I received a copy of Main Abija, My Grandad from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
A tribute to a much-loved grandfather, celebrating First Nations Australian culture, country and the circle of life. Told in Kriol and English.
‘This book has the memories I had of my grandfather from when I was small until he left us. He taught me many things about culture and country. I’m happy to pass this story on to my family and to put it in this book.’
With luscious artwork and a lyrical text in Kriol and English, celebrated Ngukurr artist Karen Rogers evokes the world of her childhood in a remote part of the Northern Territory. Her story is a beautiful celebration of a special relationship, showing how culture is passed on from generation to generation.
‘My grandfather touched my heart. I hope everybody can have a chance to love one grandparent that way.’
I’m always on the lookout for First Nations picture books to share with my students, and there’s now so many to choose from which is fantastic. When I saw that Allen and Unwin was publishing Karen Roger’s book, Main Abija My Grandad, I knew that I wanted to get a copy to read and review because not only is it written and illustrated by a Ngukurr Elder, it’s told in two languages – Kriol and English.
Main Abija My Grandad is the story of Roger’s life growing up with her grandfather, who passed on to her the traditions and culture of her people from one generation to the next. It moves from her childhood to adulthood and tells of how her own children connected with her grandfather, highlighting the importance of community, culture and country. It’s a book of memories, and a beautiful one at that.
I was most interested in the dual language of the book – it’s easy enough to find picture books telling First Nations stories written in English, but to have a book that, on every page, is first written in Kriol then translated into English made for a wonderful reading experience. I’m also grateful to Allen and Unwin for also including a page on their website (access through the book) to has Karen Rogers reading her book in both languages – I know that I’ll be utilising that when I do have the opportunity to share that with my students.
The illustrations accompanying Roger’s story are bold, bright and colourful. They draw you in and to look closer at the images and textures. I also appreciated that a map is included, that shows exactly where Ngukurr is in the Northern Territory, as well as surrounding countries.
This is a beautiful book, and I’m so very glad I had the opportunity to read it.