Review: Baby Business
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
For ages: 3+
Type: Picture Book
Buy the Book: Boomerang Books, Booktopia