Books & Literature

Book Review: Albert Namatjira, by Vincent Namatjira

PICTURE BOOK Award-winning artist Vincent Namatjira tells the life story of his great-grandfather, Albert Namatjira, one of Australia’s most iconic artists.

An interesting & important biography of one of Australia's important Indigenous figures.

This educational picture book is written and illustrated by the great-grandson of one of Australia’s most important Aboriginal figures. Albert Namatjira was not only recognised as the first indigenous Australian citizen, but was also the first indigenous person to receive local and international acclaim for his art.

The illustrations in this book are primarily part of a body of work called Albert’s Story and are a fitting tribute to the educational lesson that summarises the life of Albert Namatjira and the racist reality of early white settlement in Australia.

This hardcover picture book is presented with minimal text alongside full-page illustrations, but the story is an intense history lesson that requires adult intervention. It’s an excellent starting point for discussions on Australian history and reconciliation but is a far cry from the enjoyable, moralistic tale one would expect from a picture book. The target audience is unclear because the presentation seems too mundane and factual to engage the younger audience that most picture books are targeted towards.

Albert Namatjira’s life history is one suited to adults rather than children, but his biography is an important lesson for young people to learn. As such, this is a worthwhile history lesson for adults to share with their charges rather than a book that kids might explore by themselves.

Perhaps marrying the target audience with the format of the book would have made Albert Namatjira more successful but with a tweak to who reads it to whom, it remains a valuable lesson for all.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Distributed by: Magabala Books
Released: 1 August 2021
RRP: $24.99 hardcover

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