Wilam: A Birrarung Story

In this stunning picture book beautifully given form by Indigenous artist Lisa Kennedy, respected Elder Aunty Joy Murphy and Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly tell the story of one day in the life of the vital, flourishing Birrarung (Yarra river).

Wilam is published by Black Dog Books, and is an ode to Australian rivers, the flora and fauna that live on them, and the function they perform as a part of modern day life.

ISBN: 9781925381764
RRP: $24.99

Download teachers’ notes
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“The text of this exceptional book, by Aunty Joy Murphy and Andrew Kelly, has an incantatory magic, mingling English and the Aboriginal language of Woiwurrung: “As ngua rises, turning clouds over the distant city red . . . Birrarung begins its long winding path down to palem warreen.” 
Wall Street Journal The Best Books of 2020: Children’s Books

“The whole book is like this, page after page of dreamlike language paired with striking artwork, all evoking the ecology of the Yarra River, which runs through the city of Melbourne to the sea.”
Wall Street Journal

“Wilam: A Birrarung Story is an absolutely stunning picture book that explores the teeming wildlife that exists along Birrarung. It teaches us Woiwurrung language for the river and its inhabitants, and asks us to reflect on the importance of the river not only to animals but also to the humans who live in its vicinity. This book is a must-have for every school, library and home in Victoria.”

“Wilam is a truly beautiful story in both its words and pictures…This is a joyful book that returns much to the thoughtful reader, and offers a great deal for classroom use.”
CBCA Reading Time Blog

“This beautiful book adds to the growing number of books encapsulating our Aboriginal heritage, demonstrating our shared history and culture. Each page resonates with meaning, begging to be looked at closely while pondering the enormous time span represented by this river’s being home to so many, in the past, now and into the future…Highly Recommend.”

“Many of the plates would be stunning works of art on their own. But in combination with the text from Aunty Joy and Andrew Kelly, we have a special book to share with children aged 3-8.”
Trevor Cairney Blog

“2019 has been declared by the UN to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages and this is the perfect addition to a collection celebrating this. Not only does it embed the language of the people whose lands were focused around Birrarung into a context that makes sense to all readers, it also exemplifies the connection between text and illustrations as readers must use the one to understand the other. A must-have!”
The Bottom Shelf

“This is a highly significant work, distinguished by the seamless blend of Woiwurrung language and English…The text is superb, with a carefully chosen blend of words from each language.”
Magpies Magazine

“I cannot emphasise enough how this picture book simply bursts with life and the complete affinity with country that is held close by our First Australians…Highly recommended for all readers from prep upwards.”
Just So Stories

“Wilam is more than just a story about a river. It’s an inspiration, gently leading us to find out more about the land in which we live.”
Glam Adelaide

“This is a book to treasure, from the stunning cover that emanates the fresh river air and teeming flora and fauna, to the glossary of Woiwurrung words, which have been integrated into the English text. The language is poetic and beautiful, while each double-page spread is a breathtaking work of art as Lisa Kennedy’s rich and vibrant strokes breathe the life and colour of the river onto the pages. Wilam will hopefully find a home in every classroom and family as a wonderful celebration that weaves together flora and fauna with people, water and land, and past and present.”
Kids Book Review

“The significance and beauty of this publication cannot be understated… It opens up opportunity for those that are interested in learning about Australia’s traditional landowners, the history of the Yarra and the birds and animals that called it home, to research, read and learn.The book is a festival of artwork. Stunning and poetic in structure and meaning, it’s a welcomed lesson in Indigenous culture and language. Aunty Jo Murphy and Andrew Kelly have created a magnificent example of the excellence our Indigenous history and its significance and place in our life today. A spectacular explosion of colour takes place on every page. It’s truly a book of extraordinary beauty and value.”
Boomerang Books Blog

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