I read Ambelin Kwaymullina’s guest blog post “What teachers and school librarians can do to support Indigenous books” and she mentions Indigenous publisher Magabala Books which publishes many children’s and YA books. I particularly like their picture books, because PICTURES…

This Friday 26 June at 5pm, Magabala celebrates the launch of its new building at 1 Bagot Street, Broome. The redevelopment began seven years ago, with help from the Kimberley Development Commission, Royalties for Regions, the WA Department of Culture and the Arts, the Shire of Broome and Lotterywest. The launch is part of the 2015 Kullari NAIDOC Festival. If you’re in Broome come along and see the new bookshop and find Magabala’s latest releases and range of quality books. Here are my (very late) reviews of some of their beautiful picture books. There are teacher’s notes online for all these books.

Staircase to the Moon

Staircase to the Moon by Bronwyn Houston

Staircase to the Moon by Bronwyn Houston (2011) is a lively adventure about the wonders of imagination.

Before even finding the staircase to the moon, Rosie and Grandpa have to contend with swarms of blood-sucking mosquitoes, boabs and frangipanis reaching out gnarled branches, and the treacherous mudflats. But the trials are worth it, for the acrobatic delights when they reach their destination.

For every child who’s watched the full moon rise over the mudflats of Roebuck Bay in Broome, or the sun set over the water in Perth (that’s me) and wanted to climb that staircase of light, Rosie’s nighttime adventure with her beloved Grandpa is the perfect bedtime story, certain to lead to dreams full of adventure and daring.


Marngrook by Titta Secombe and Grace Fielding

The Djab-Wurrung and Jardwadjali people of the Grampians in north west Victoria played marngrook, an Aboriginal ball game that may have inspired today’s Aussie Rules football. Marngrook: The long ago story of Aussie Rules by Titta Secombe and Grace Fielding (2012) is the author’s interpretation of the story she grew up hearing from her Elders.

Wawi made a marngrook out of possum skin for the children to play with. His son Jaara loved the marngrook so much he spent all day kicking it and at sundown realized he was lost. As the clan looks for Jaara, he only has owls and curlews for company and his fear of dooligars.

The story uses some Jardwadjali language words and the pronunciation and meanings are listed at the start so readers know how to say them. Grace Fielding’s illustrations combine traditional dot art with contemporary figures and animals. The pages are very busy, but the white text blocks break up the earthy palette.

The Grumpy Lighthouse Keeper

Scaly-Tailed Possum and Echidna