I am grateful when Broome-based Magabala Books does what it does best, and publishes beautiful looking, endearing and well packaged children’s books. I have a wonderful collection of colourfully illustrated titles released over the years by this non-for-profit Indigenous publishing house, which aims to promote, preserve and publish Indigenous Australian culture.
Magabala has also successfully nurtured some of our youngest authors and illustrators in the country, and two of these appear below. Here’s just three of their latest offerings that will impress you, as they did me!
Staircase to the Moon
Broome born and bred artists Bronwyn Houston is making her mark in publishing. She has just released her first authored /illustrated kid’s book Staircase to the Moon, following the release of Loongie the Greedy Crocodile which she illustrated for Kiefer and Lucy Dann back in 2008.
Through her latest efforts we learn of the natural phenomenon that happens over Roebuck Bay in the town on Broome between March and October. It involves a full-moon, a reflection across mud-flats and an illusion of a rising staircase. It is a spectacular event that draws thousands of tourists and locals to the Kimberly each year. But what about those who can’t get there? Well, this warmly illustrated book Staircase to the Moon is your own private showing, that you can enjoy in the comfort of your home no matter where you are, an no matter how often you want to see it.
With a storyline that includes a young girl Rosie and her grandfather, dive-bombing mosquitoes, boab trees that look like sleeping giants, beady yellow-eyed bats, and a questionable dream, I liked the look of Rosie’s star pyjamas throughout. The story also reminded me of my youth, when I was young I dreamt I had driven up to the sky (somehow in my mother’s green VW beetle) and had a picnic in the clouds. Perhaps I didn’t dream it at all!
Brownyn Houston is descended from the Nyiyaparli and Yindijibarndi people of the Pilbara region of WA. And it’s obvious by Houston’s illustrations in ink and water colour that she draws inspiration from the natural colours and landscape of the region where she lives.
This is the perfect book to read to your daughter, niece, sister, friend at bedtime. At $19.95 and available in April it’s the perfect Easter gift as well. Pick it up at your nearest bookshop or on-line from Magabala Books.
The Snake and the Boy
The best thing about The Snake and the Boy is not the vibrant greens, blues and earth tones in the illustrations on every page. It’s not even the thrill of the story about cheeky snake stealing an apple from the playground either. Both those facts make it a good read, but what impressed me most was learning this book was written and illustrated by 12-year-old Azmen Sebastian in Broome.
I know my nephews will love this tale about what happens on the playground in a school in the Kimberley. I can’t wait to share it with them.
At $12.95 this book is an absolute bargain and is available in bookshops NOW, or on-line direct from Magabala Books.
Don’t forget to ask your local library and school library to order this titles in for everyone in to enjoy, even if they can’t afford to buy them themselves.