Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Hello and Welcome

Hello and Welcome by Gregg Dreise (Penguin Random House Australia) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN: 9781760898328

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

Told from the point of view of an Indigenous child performing at a school assembly, the story of Hello and Welcome is one of awareness, appreciation and acceptance. The child begins by thanking the Elders who entrust their knowledge to subsequent generations, and then the young kids who learn about Country and will become Elders one day. They also acknowledge Mother Earth and ‘the ground on which we stand’. Finally, they express gratitude to the visitors ‘for respecting the Culture we share’.

A proud Kamilaroi author and illustrator, Gregg Dreise blends rhyming English text and traditional Gamilaraay language to unite all Australian children in fellowship. The simple words are packed with meaning, inviting Indigenous and non-Indigenous readers alike to understand the past and embrace a future where ‘Different colours, different people, [are] together in harmony’.

Each spread of the book is bursting with nature’s brilliant colours, from the golden yellow of the sun to the emerald green of the grass. Dynamic Indigenous dot patterns ripple across the pages, drawing the eye through the book. Although Gregg’s depictions of people are unrefined, the faces beam with hope and joy.

Aimed at kids aged four to eight, Hello and Welcome celebrates not only Australia’s Indigenous heritage but also the diversity of the nation today. It recognises that children are the key to creating an enduring society that values compassion and tolerance.

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