The First Scientists by Corey Tutt, illustrated by Blak Douglas is shortlisted in the 2022 CBCA awards in the Eve Pownall non-fiction category.
Inside the CBCA Shortlist
Book Review by Joy Lawn (first published in Magpies magazine and reproduced with permission)
Opening with an Acknowledgement of Country and the fascinating Aiatsis Map of Indigenous Australia, The First Scientists (Hardie Grant) is a comprehensive and clearly organised resource for primary-aged children. Kamilaroi man and founder of Deadly Science, Corey Tutt, who was also 2020 NSW Young Australian of the Year, looks at a number of the discoveries and inventions outlined by Bruce Pascoe in Young Dark Emu, as well as topics not covered in that earlier book. The two books are worthwhile companion volumes.
The chapters are The first astronomers (time to harvest, predicting the weather), The first engineers (fish traps, bush ovens), The first forensic scientists (bush trackers), The first chemists (bush medicine, art preservation), The first land managers (using fire) and The first ecologists (plastics and carbon emissions). Sections on notable First Nations scientists such as David Unaipon (who also wrote the first published book by a First Nations person and is featured on the $50 dollar note) are interspersed.
A highlight of the book is the representative recognition of scientists and discoveries from across Australia. Small maps show locations.
Blak Douglas, the First Nations artist who curated the 2021 Welcome to Country fireworks on New Year’s Eve, and whose first book for children was Finding Our Heart, has illustrated this book in a colourful, naïve style. The design by Keisha Leon is assured.
This book urges everyone to care for Country, show respect for the Traditional Custodians of the land and modern-day “First Nations scientists who are leading the way”. It also encourages children to think and act like scientists by observing, questioning and discovering for themselves.
Corey Tutt acknowledges the Elders and communities who were consulted during the making of this book.
Of further interest, David Unaipon also features in another 2022 CBCA Eve Pownall shortlisted book, Heroes, Rebels and Innovators. Compare and contract the content about him, and how he is portrayed in both books.