Somebody’s Land: Welcome to Our Country by Adam Goodes, Ellie Laing and illustrated by David Hardy is the first picture book in what is to be a series that will include five books. This is a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the traditional custodians of the land and the gifts that are their culture, knowledge, stories, practices and deep connection to the land. It is also a story about Australia’s shared history, the injustices and it introduces readers to the term, Terra Nullius which was used by the colonists who arrived on First Nation Country as well as the significance of acknowledging country.
This vibrant picture book explores how Captain Arthur Phillip raised the Union Jack flag, a symbol that the British had arrived and the land was theirs. The Flag was raised on Gadigal land, land that was inhabited by First Nations peoples for at least 60 000 years. No treaty was made with the First Nations peoples then, or since. The Europeans claimed the land was Terra Nullius, a Latin word meaning, “nobody’s land”, but it was somebody’s land.
The book is structured in a way where the words are repeated on each double page spread while showing the rich and diverse ways the Aboriginal people connected with and nurtured the land. The text and glorious illustrations show the Aboriginal people living in harmony and sustainably with the land that was lush, thriving and peaceful. The narrative coupled with the illustrations shows First Nations peoples building homes on the land, telling stories, sustainably sourcing food, being resourceful and inventive with creating tools, tracking animals, enjoying bush tucker and creating medicines from the plants. The story also explores how Aboriginal people shared their teachings.
This is ultimately a story to connect past shared history with today’s generation, to start conversations and learn about the culture of the traditional custodians of the land. This book enables readers to see the deep respect and connection to Country First Nations peoples have.