by Bronwyn Bancroft
Lionsville is a “secret place” surrounded by mountains and rivers and it’s where the artist Bronwyn Bancroft grew up. During the day, she swam in the creek, where catfish made their nests in the sand, at night all the kids slept in big beds on the verandah, listening to the tree frogs sing.
A descendant of the Bundjalung people, Bancroft’s story is simply told, but powerfully evocative, like the detailed illustrations on every page.
Using collage, paint and photographs, the picture book feels like a richly illustrated biography focussing on certain memories that capture Bancroft’s childhood. “I remember coming to Lionsville in the big blue Ford, nine of us, three in the front and six kids squashed in the back – my eldest sister always got the front seat. We sang songs all the way.” But the book also honours the love and wisdom of her elders and their spiritual and physical connection to the land.
Aimed at readers five and up, Bancroft’s story is gentle, contemplative, and it’s clear that hopes for the future lie in remembering the past. This is a beautiful, large format picture book that celebrates Aboriginal culture and encourages all of us to “listen to our old people” and celebrate their “struggles and victories.”