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Brother Moon

Preserving the stories of Elders, Brother Moon is a new children’s book by local author Maree McCarthy Yoelu and illustrator Samantha Fry, published by Magabala Books. A gentle but powerful introduction to Wadjigany country and the stories of the old people, Brother Moon invites young readers to reflect on their relationship with the natural world.

Maree McCarthy Yoelu is a Wadjigany woman, from the western Wagait region. She grew up in Daly River and now lives in Darwin where she works in radio. Maree shared her story of writing Brother Moon with Off The Leash.

The story of Brother Moon wasn’t originally intended for publication. My sister Helen shared it with me many moons ago while visiting Wadjigany country. I realised from the moment I heard it that I needed to write it down so I could share it with our children for years to come. I knew it was special. It reminded me of the unique connection our ancestors had with the moon and the stars, and the important role it played, and still plays, in our lives.

There is a saying “when an old person dies, it’s like a library burning down”.

Our Elder’s stories are incredibly precious. Without them, we lose our identity, our traditions, languages, songs, dances and rituals.

This is what drove me to write Brother Moon; realising the importance of documenting our histories and our connections to country, so we could start building our own library, for all future generations of Wadjigany families and all people to benefit.

In Brother Moon, Grandpa Liman is my mother’s father (Harry Morgan, a Wadjigany Elder) and Hippy-Boy (Heath Wilson) is my nephew.

This story was told by Grandpa Liman to my nephew when he was a child. Hippy-Boy ultimately learns how his great grandfather uses the phases of the moon when he goes hunting and fishing, and why it is important for us all to have an understanding of the natural world.

I hope that it brings a sense of awe and wonder, a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves. I hope it shines a light on how our Elders and ancestors used the moon and the stars to guide their travels while they lived on country; and how reliant and important it is to them when living on country. I hope they look up at the moon now and know their brother is looking out for them.

I urge whoever reads this to encourage your young ones to start chatting to their Elders. Start collecting stories for your own library that can live on for years to come.


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