Review: Baby Business

It may be a touch late for Mother’s Day but when I received Baby Business, the debut picture book by Jasmine Seymour, I knew I had to include it as an ode to mothers no matter what their creed or origin.

Seymour created Baby Business to pay homage to her unique Darug heritage and the mob that still thrives in the Hawkesbury area of NSW. She pays tributes with a touching and expressive tale about an ancient First Nations ritual, the baby smoking ceremony.

Fortunately, no babies are ever actually ‘smoked’ but through a handful of lovingly scattered words, we are introduced to this soothing ritual, led to the smoking place and educated about the special materials used, each selected for their healing and protective properties.

Flames evolve and soon, warm smoke rises, ghost-like, to bathe baby’s feet and connect him with Country. Wisps enshroud baby, caressing his heart, and hands, entreating him to care for Country, take only what he needs and give back whenever he can.

The ceremony continues as smoke spirals benignly about baby’s being, entreating as sense of belonging and suffusing him with empathy and caring. The ceremony conducted by baby’s aunties, mother, and women of the tribe not only symbolises a blessing to protect but also serves as a kind of counsel to remind children where they belong and how they might proceed through life.

Seymour’s beautiful illustrations reflect the earthy heart of Country and are imbued with the texture of many mediums however were done digitally. Meaningfully placed, Red-tailed Black Cockatoos provide pops of sharpness linking significance and encouraging young eyes to search each page.

Apart from portraying a beautiful ritual in a way all young children can enjoy, Baby Business, doubles as a gentle, affectionate reminder to all children about the importance of mutual respect for ourselves, our ancestors, and the lands in which we dwell.

Ideal for curling up and sharing quietly together.

Title: Baby Business
Author Illustrator: Jasmine Seymour
Publisher: Magabala Books, $24.99
Publication Date: June 2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781925768671
For ages: 3+
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: Boomerang Books, Booktopia


Norah Colvin said…
This sounds like a marvellous book for sharing understandings of others and one's place in the world. The traditions and values that are passed on are ones we should all treasure. Magabala Books is a rich resource for learning about the origins of our country and its people. Thanks for alerting me to this book.
DimbutNice said…
Hi Norah, you are very welcome. And yes, I agree, this is a good one for embracing not only the ways of one cultural but for recognising the shared values behind different traditions. A beautiful example of the positive effects of cultural diversity.

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