The Lost Girl

By Ambelin Kwaymullina
Illustrated by Leanne Tobin
Walker Books, 2014

Reviewed by Janine Kitson

This gentle Aboriginal picture story celebrates the protective and healing powers of Nature that kept one young girl safe and secure.

The girl is lost and must survive alone in the desert outback until she finds her way home back to her people’s campfires.

The author, Ambelin Kwaymullina, is an Aboriginal legal academic and is from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. In addition to her work at the University of Western Australia, Ambelin is an award-winning creative writer and illustrator.

The theme of being lost and then finding one’s way is a powerful narrative metaphor. The book provides an empowering voice for young Indigenous girls, and Ambelin Kwaymullina acknowledges that the book “is for all Aboriginal girls”.

The artist, Leanne Tobin, a descendant of the Dharug, the traditional Aboriginal people of Greater Western Sydney, illustrates the stark, bold beauty of the red desert landscape of the Pilbara.

Available for borrowing from Federation Library.

Small group/pair discussion

1. Talk about a time when you became lost.
2. How do you think the girl got lost?
3. Identify the animals that observe the girl on her journey home.
4. How might the girl have known the Crow was safe to follow?
5. Could Nature help another child find her way home if the land, water and soil is polluted?

Suggestions for learning activities

1. Draw or paint a picture that describes the desert.
2. Write a diary of the girl being lost and her time in the desert.
3. Write your own story about getting lost but finding your way home.
5. Use the book to springboard into drama and dance.
6. Springboard into reading more Aboriginal stories and legends.

Janine Kitson is a Relieving Country Organiser.