Kangaroo’s Pouch story released in new children’s book series

By Our Reporter
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A new children’s book tells the charming story of how the iconic Australian kangaroo got her pouch. “How Mother Kangaroo Got Her Pouch,” created by Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi woman Rebecca Beetson, marks the debut of this talented author and artist. The book was launched by the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.

This delightful tale explores themes of family, connection to Country, and the values of helping and kindness. It is the second in a series of five picture books inspired by the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre at the National Museum.

The book features stunning 3D collage-style illustrations by Paul Lalo from Soymilk Studio in Melbourne. This studio also created the artwork for the series’ first book, “The Bunyip and the Stars” by Adam Duncan.

Characters and animals from these stories are showcased in the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre. The series will continue with “A Woolly Tale” by Jackie Hosking, set to be released in September 2024, followed by two more books in 2025.

These picture books support the National Museum’s mission to tell stories for all ages, sparking conversations about First Nations culture, place, identity, and Australian history in engaging ways.

National Museum director Katherine McMahon praised Rebecca Beetson for her imaginative storytelling and Paul Lalo for his captivating illustrations. “Rebecca has shown creativity and warmth with this book. I’d like to thank her for sharing her wisdom and insights which have brought to life some of the characters central to both First Nations storytelling and the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre,” Ms McMahon said. “The lovely illustrations are sure to stimulate the imaginations of young readers.”

Combining ancient First Nations storytelling with an adventurous tale, “How Mother Kangaroo Got Her Pouch” follows Bunda (Mother Kangaroo) and her energetic son, Baabay (Joey), as they help Old Wambad (Wombat) journey through Australia’s diverse landscapes and evade hunters. In return for their kindness, Bunda and Baabay receive an unexpected gift—a pouch—changing their lives forever.

Author Rebecca Beetson shared that she first heard the story of how the kangaroo got her pouch at North Dubbo Public School. “Many Aboriginal people visited us to teach us art and stories. I have remembered these stories since I was little and put them into my art that I do today. The kangaroo story was the one I heard most as a kid, I heard it from different Elders, so it was told to me many times. I love the Aboriginal words gently put into the story. I feel the kids are going to understand those words without them having to be explained to them,” Ms Beetson said.

Illustrator Paul Lalo expressed his excitement about animating the second story in the series. “It was wonderful working with the National Museum on the illustrations for ‘The Bunyip and the Stars’ and the stories at the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre, so returning to illustrate the second book in the series made a lot of sense. I hope my illustrations capture the imagination of the reader and help them establish an emotive connection with the story,” Mr Lalo said.

Carlie Walker, manager of the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre, was delighted to see the themes and characters from the centre featured in the book series. “The books will build on the innovative narrative approach used in the Discovery Centre. Five unique Australian stories engage children and their carers during their visits to the Centre’s play and learn space and the book series will extend this experience into homes and classrooms,” Ms Walker said.

“How Mother Kangaroo Got Her Pouch” is published by National Museum of Australia Press and is available in person from the Museum Shop and online.

The author & The illustrator

Rebecca Beetson is a Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi woman, author, and artist whose family and ancestors were traditional custodians of lands in Dubbo and Moree, New South Wales. She grew up in Dubbo on the land of the Wiradjuri people. Rebecca has been painting for more than ten years and has sold over 200 paintings. She enjoys teaching people about her culture through boomerang throwing lessons, art classes, artifact displays, talks, and Dreamtime storytelling. She first heard the story of how the kangaroo got her pouch from a visiting First Nations artist at North Dubbo Public School.

Paul Lalo was born in France and arrived in Australia in 2004 to study animation at the Queensland College of Art. He has worked as a director, animator, and motion designer for TV commercials, music videos, and documentaries. Paul is the co-founder of Melbourne-based animation boutique Soymilk Studio, which specialises in stop-motion and motion design.


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