'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 9 October 2020

Review: Took the Children Away

Took the Children Away, the iconic lyrics of First Nations singer/songwriter Archie Roach in picture book form, is published as a special 30th anniversary edition. 

The song, written in 1988 for release on his 1990 debut album, Charcoal Lane, received the first ever prestigious, Australian Human Rights Award.

Taken from his parents at two years old, Archie was prompted by his Uncle Banjo Clarke, to write a song about when he was taken from his family.

Not having any memory of that time,Uncle Banjo told him stories of his life and thus the song was born. The book’s illustrations are by Ruby Hunter, Roach’s beloved partner in life, his soulmate and musical collaborator, who left this world behind in 2010. 

Their last creative work together leaves its mark and a lasting legacy for future generations.

Strong messages of loss and grief, of separation and disconnection, but also of love, return, reconnection and renewal; a closing of the circle, impress upon the world, the truth about the injustices perpetrated on the Stolen Generation, while it speaks for all those who were taken from their families and culture to be made something else.

The book’s bright orange cover has a bold indented title, author and illustrator’s name. The image is appropriately chosen from his 2007 album, Journey.

Highly collectable not only for the song lyrics that will remain everlasting, but for the historical and visual content. Rare singular photographs of historical value are included of: Archie with his Uncle in the forest near Framlingham Aboriginal Mission, Archie with Ruby, the only photo he has of his mother and father holding his eldest brother and others, priceless memories that chart the course of his and his family’s life.

A stunning full-page painting titled NORI, (a Ngarrindjeri word for Pelican) by Ruby’s sister-in-law, Rosslyn Richards, precedes the last page, with a photo and a short statement by Archie.

Beautifully designed with strong Indigenous colours throughout, this is a collector’s dream. 

Title: Took the Children Away
Author: Archie Roach
Illustrator: Ruby Hunter
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, $ 24.99
Publication Date: 8 September
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781760857219
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book