Adam Duncan's story The Bunyip and the Stars launches
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Adam Duncan uses ECEC knowledge and experience to share First Nations stories

by Freya Lucas

May 03, 2023

Early childhood educator and author Biripi man Adam Duncan has used the help of the children from Wiradjuri Preschool and Child Care Centre along with First Nations oral storytelling traditions to develop his debut work The Bunyip and the Stars, launched recently at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.


A combination of a Sky Country creation story and an exciting adventure tale, The Bunyip and the Stars follows Ngariin (Big Sister) as she searches for Wumbirr (Little Brother), who has been captured by the fearsome bunyip.


Ngariin needs to draw on her knowledge of her Country, the bush and mob stories to rescue Wumbirr and escape the bunyip.


“I feel so privileged to have been given the opportunity to make my story, known and loved by hundreds of young people with whom I’ve worked over the last decade, available to a much broader audience,” Mr Duncan said. 


“This book is culturally significant, as it represents a continuation of Biripi cultural practice, and I am so glad to have been involved.”


Exploring diverse themes such as the importance of family bonds, connection to Country and the value of shared knowledge, the book is the first in a series of five picture books featuring stories from Australia inspired by the National Museum’s new immersive play space for children – the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre.


The story is illuminated through striking 3D collage-style illustrations by Paul Lalo of Melbourne-based animation boutique, Soymilk Studio, the same studio who developed the illustrations of the characters and animals found in the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre.


The next in the five-book series, How the Kangaroo Got Its Pouch by author Rebecca Beetson, will be released by the National Museum in time for Christmas this year, with books three and four to follow in 2024 and book five in a limited box set in 2025.


The picture books reinforce the National Museum’s commitment to storytelling of all kinds, for visitors of all ages. They are designed to encourage conversations around themes including First Nations culture, place, identity and Australian history in an age-appropriate and inspiring way.


National Museum Acting Director Ruth Wilson thanked Mr Duncan for his creative storytelling and Paul Lalo for his wonderful illustrations.


“The creativity, knowledge and care Adam has shown with this book is to be commended. I thank him for his efforts in bringing to life some of the characters central to both First Nations mythology and the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre,” Ms Wilson said.


The Bunyip and the Stars is published by National Museum of Australia Press and is now available online from the Museum Shop.

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