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

Friday 8 September 2023

Review: Listen

With a very timely arrival given the upcoming opportunity to make a momentous national decision, this is the new brilliant and beautiful offering from the team who gave us the sensational We Are Australians [CBCA Award for New Illustrator 2023]

Duncan Smith, proud Wiradjuri man, and Nicole Godwin collaborate again with celebrated artist and inspirational speaker, Jandamarra Cadd, Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Warung man, to bring this reflection on the importance of hearing the voices of our First Australians.

As with the earlier book, the text is poetically simple but intensely powerful. Nicole Godwin and Duncan Smith have eloquently expressed the sentiments of so many of us, both First Nations and non-Indigenous, who are committed to initiating healing of the past and a future where we all walk together.

Respect, truth-telling, first languages, Dreaming stories, Treaty, Songlines, culture, Country, Reconciliation – all these are key to understanding and bridging the gap between all our peoples, and the reason we need to listen to the voices of our traditional owners. Those who have any doubts about that would do well to do their research on the still immense gaps and shortfalls between what is the experience of First Australians as compared to the rest of our population.

Jandamarra Cadd’s art is, as always, stunning, and his work in illustrating both these books have raised the bar considerably for many budding illustrators. He has used real people as the subjects for the paintings that grace this book, using his combination of traditional Aboriginal art techniques but in his own distinctive style. The result, to put it simply, is once again utterly breathtaking. If you have not yet done so, I urge you to seek out his art, and be prepared to be blown away. His portrait of the late Uncle Jack Charles, uncle in family as well as the honorary title of respect, is one with which many might be familiar, but there is so much more to see.

So, again, this is a book that transcends our usual concept of ‘picture book’. Certainly, it is an illustrated book which has an audience that spans the very young to the old, and is an essential title for any collection, whether school or home. The teaching notes will provide educators, and individuals, with a very comprehensive examination of the book and its purpose. I offer this review as the mother and grandmother of proud Wiradjuri daughters and their offspring, with a fervent wish for every reader to take heed and 'listen'.

 It is my belief that, like the earlier book, this is a must-have, a must-share and a must-read. I cannot give it any higher recommendation to you.

Authors: Nicole Godwin/Duncan Smith
Illustrator: Jandamarra Cadd
Publisher: Wild Dog Books, $24.99
Date of Publication: 30 August 2023
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781742036731
For ages: 4 – Adult
Type: Picture Book