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Baby Business - Q&A with Jasmine Seymour.
What is Baby Business about?
Baby business is about an Aboriginal baby smoking ceremony. The book is contemporary look at what a baby smoking ceremony might look like on Darug Country.
A baby smoking ceremony is a baby's first welcome to country. The smoke helps the baby to belong to Country by infusing its whole being with the smell of Country through the smoke.
The child is passed through the smoke, and is delivered its first lessons in law. Lessons that teach it how to look after Country.
The baby receives its personal totem, and learns how this knowledge connects with language and the Dreaming path of its people.
Is there a particular theme in your story?
The theme of this story is about belonging. Ownership of land is not something that Aboriginal people considered before invasion. The book wants the audience to know that the baby belongs to the land. Nura is, provider, home, friend, parent, Aunty, Uncle and Elder to its people.
Was there an inspiration for your story?
The inspiration for this book came from conversations with my Darug Aboriginal Custodian Colleagues. We were discussing at the time, how wonderful it would be to put on a baby welcoming ceremony for the community.
The pictures were inspired somewhat by my own experience of growing up on country in Maraylya, NSW. Many times I have walked through the bush with my own Nanna and felt completely loved and connected by and to Country.
What is the story behind the story?
The story behind the story is a renewed connection with Darug language that has somewhat been bought about by my experience in working with The Real Secret River project.
What kind of research did you do to write this story?
I looked a lots of smoking ceremonies from Australia and tried to use the most common or similar elements that could be applied to a smoking on Country. The use of paper bark, termite mud and green leaves are common to all Aboriginal peoples. The types are not named as I believe that this can be told by Elders on Country. That information is for Elders to give to people or for you to find out by creating a relationship with the Indigenous people of the reader's own place.
Do you have any tips for people wanting to write for children?
My tips are to go for it! What are you waiting for?
Before I wrote this I never thought that I was a writer or illustrator. I am a great reader and have love reading more than just about anything.From when I was very small to now when I have to adjust to reading with glasses in bed. I have always loved reading late into the night.
I am a primary school teacher who teachers Kindergarten. I adore picture books and their simple, elegant, emotive and inferential texts. The less you have to say the better – really when it comes to little people. That was a conscious decision I kept in my mind when I wrote baby business.