Illustrator: Jasmine Seymour
Publisher: Magabala Books
The publisher says...
Baby Business tells the story of a Darug baby smoking ceremony that welcomes baby to country. The smoke is a blessing – it will protect the baby and remind them that they belong. This beautiful ritual is recounted in a way young children will completely relate to and is enhanced by gentle illustrations. Darug language words are integrated throughout, with a glossary at the back. Central to this stunning book is a message of connection to Country and the need to care for it.
The illustrator says...
Being shortlisted for the CBCA book of the year awards is incredible. I am so proud of My Indigenous heritage and of my culture. I am beyond delighted to share this book with kids and adults. Being shortlisted is wonderful because we desperately need more diverse picture books in Australia. We need books that represent all of us. We need books that open our eyes to experiences and stories that we might not know live next door to us. Having Baby Business on the shortlist means that we value both the ancient and contemporary experiences of Indigenous people. I don’t see many books that represent contemporary Indigenous kids. I want to see more books showing us doing everyday things in Indigenous ways.
The book is a contemporary look at what a baby smoking ceremony might look like on Darug Country. Many Books about Indigenous people happen in the past and I wanted stories for us that were situated in the present. Baby Business is a book that is for everyone who lives in Australia, over time I have heard many Elders generously say that if you are born on Country then you belong to Country. This book is a window into the longest continuing culture on earth for everyone. On a more personal note, I wanted this book to be for all the mob who don’t know where they come from. It was created for all the Indigenous kids who live on Darug land (because in Sydney we have the largest population of Indigenous people in Australia) who want to feel like they belong. Baby Business is about creating a connection for these kids to their culture.
My favourite image is of the family walking to the smoking place. The picture really evokes the bush in Maraylya where I grew up with my Nanna. Looking at the picture I can hear the trees, birds, wind, and insects. I can even feel the sun on my back and the crunch of the grass as it is being walked upon. This picture transports me to that time when I was little and walking on Country with Nanna.
One of my favourite lines is: Yana with nanna to the smoking place. But the sentences I love the most is: keep our language on your tongue. Our words are the song of our ancestors and show the pathway to dreaming.
The CBCA judges say...
Jasmine Seymour's visual style feels primal and sophisticated at the same time. The scribbled white lines provide atmospheric effects. The suggestion of smoke is truly a delightful method with the suggestion of the smoke shifting and changing achieved with the appearance of blurred strokes. Also deftly handled are the nuanced skin tones, the varied clothes of the women and the rich honeycomb of the bees. Although the artworks are digital, they show excellence in the illusion of different art types. There is a lovely connection between traditional and ethereal realism. The simple two-dimensional colour of the women draws them out of the background. This is how we come to understand culture, through line, texture and colour, as well as through language.
Teaching Notes for the book…
The publisher has generously made teaching resources available for this book. Click on the icon below to view these resources.