Yana with Nanna to the smoking place
Baby business by Jasmine Seymour is a beautiful new book written and illustrated by Jasmine Seymour and published by Magabala books.
This picture book shows and tells us the tradition of welcoming a baby into country. It is told in a way that will relate to young children and learn from.
Indigenous children who have been part of this ceremony will love recounting the significant symbols and words used and children from non-Indigenous backgrounds will appreciate the calm nature of the ceremony and similarities they have when they are welcomed into their family to be part of a wider community.
Jasmine Seymour tells this story from the perspectives of the aunties who talk about when their Wianga (mother) would have performed this ceremony for them.
We are told step by step how the smoke connects the baby to the land, rids bad spirits and encourages the baby to always remember their family and language.
Written in English with words from the Darug people appearing throughout each page, this book shows the reader that this language is still alive and a huge part of Australia.
The importance of the Drug language goes beyond just being part of the story. They make the story part of the country. They make the story have more meaning to who the Indigenous people of Australia are and the significant role they play in looking after country.
The final words resonated with me and many children I read this to:
Remember that it does not belong to us. We belong to country.
This sentence sums up how much we need to respect and care for the land we live on. We belong to it and if we are to grow food from it, shelter on it and live – we need to respect it.
Baby business is a book to be shared and talked about. To draw language from and to respect the symbols and rituals that are associated with the land we call Australia.
So what else can you do with this book?
Indigenous language and culture
- Write down the Darug words on a board or flash cards to display as you read the book so that children can learn these words.
- Find out where the Darug language is from and where it is spoken.
- List the different symbols and rituals associated with a smoking ceremony.
- Explore other times a smoking ceremony is performed and what it means in different situations.
Links to cultures around the world
- Explore the different ways different cultures welcome babies to their community.
- How can we treat the land in a better way in the community we live in?
- How can we show that we belong to country?
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