Found is a beautifully written and illustrated picture book which on one level can be read as the story of a young calf left alone when his family is taken away in the back of a truck. On another level, this book is a gentle introduction for the very young to the story of the Stolen Generations, when Indigenous children were taken by force from their families. The reader feels the fear and loneliness felt by the young calf when his family is ‘stolen’ by the man with the truck. The calf encounters some friendly horses by the river as he searches for his family – while they are not his family, they do provide some brief comfort in the darkness. The young calf is reunited with his mother at the end of this book, highlighting the importance of connection with family.
Young readers will delight in the feeling of safety and security as the young calf relaxes with his family. Sadly – adult readers will know that while the calf is safe again, many of the children separated from their families as part of the Stolen Generations were not so lucky.
The spare but emotive text, with its short sentences, effectively highlights both the fear of the young calf as he is left alone, and his longing to be reunited with family. The illustrations work seamlessly with the text to portray this story of loss and hope. The young calf is depicted on the front cover as a small lonely figure in the vast red landscape surrounding him, illuminating his sense of separation. The colours towards the end of the book as the calf is reunited with his family show light and warmth.
This is a story that – despite its echoes of pain and loss – ultimately resonates with hope. It is only by acknowledging the mistakes of the past that we can move forward. Use of this book in a class or home setting may inspire conversation about the Stolen Generations and provide a useful platform for further discussion about Australia’s Indigenous history and culture.
Bruce Pascoe is a Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian man. Charmaine Ledden-Lewis is a Blue Mountains artist and descendant of the Bundjalung people. She was the Magabala Books 2019 Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award winner, securing a $10,000 grant funded by the Kestin Family Foundation. ‘Found’ is her first book.