Title: Walking In Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest
Authors: Diane Lucas and Ben Tyler
Illustrator: Emma Long
Published: April 2021
Publisher: Big Picture Press
Readership: Children’s Picturebook
I received a copy of Walking In Gagudju Country from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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.
We pack our bags with food and water, a billy and some matches to light a fire.
We head off into the shady monsoon forest on the edge of the billabong.
Diane Lucas, Ben Tyler and Emma Long share their knowledge and love of the Top End in this enchanting and accessible book about one of Australia’s most ancient and beautiful ecosystems.
This gorgeous picturebook is a celebration of the fauna and flora from the Top End of Australia.
A collaborative book, written by Diane Lucas – a school teacher who moved to Kakudu and spent years teaching and learning about the land – and Ben Tyler, a Bininj entrepreneur, Walking In Gagudju Country explores the native wildlife and plants from Australia’s northern bush country. It is told in English and Kundjeyhmi (one of the language groups of the Bininj people) and the monsoon forest that is explored in the book is located in the Kakadu National Park.
This book is just stunning, combining storytelling with information in a very visually appealing way. In turns told by Diane, Ben and both of them together, each section of the writing has a little illustration of who is telling that particular part of the book, which makes it feel a little like a story play in picture book form. It starts with Diane and Ben setting off into the monsoon forest, and as they walk, they stop and tell the stories of what they see and hear. While the majority of the book is written in English, this is interspersed with the traditional Kundjeyhmi names of the native wildlife and plants (with illustrations and translations to support the reader). We find out information about the different flora and fauna shared and how it might be used by the local indigenous groups.
The illustrations are beautiful and detailed. Along with the large scale illustrations that take up the page, there are smaller ones that are used to help identify animals and plants and their traditional names. We also have close-ups on each page, spotlighting the important things to pay attention to. I really enjoyed spending time just looking through the wonderful watercolour images.
Walking in Gagudju Country is a love picture book that not only tells a story, but teaches us about the place in which it’s set. The dual language offers us an opportunity to learn the traditional names and, having read many books that share a similar style but from different indigenous peoples from around Australia, it’s really nice to compare them.
This will be going into my classroom to be shared by my students, who love to explore books like this one.