Can you understand how disconcerting it is to be asked Where are you from? Constantly? Even though you’re ‘from here’? Then again, might the question be related to the colour of skin or even the texture and colour of hair?

Jordan Collins and Phil Lesnie have created a magnificent picture book in which our central character describes the weight and impact of this question. Therefore, ‘- how do I respond? How am I supposed to respond?// What is it that I can possibly say/ To make my answer/ seem slightly okay?’

Might it be to remind the questioner that ‘I’m from the interiors of collapsing stars,/ From the explosion that made the big bang/ and the iridescent glow of a nebula.// I’m from the void and the cosmic dust/ around our solar system.’

However, nobody’s fooled. for the nub of the question remains. Yet might we consider, that ‘I came from the same ancestor as you/ The primate who decided to walk upon two legs/ For the first time.’ 

Bookwagon cannot praise this mighty book enough. Not only are the words strong, impactful, personal and so meaningful, but Phil Lesnie’s pictures are breathtaking. Altogether, it means that Where? is a picture book that merits sharing, knowing about, offering and building into our consciousness.

Notable Book: 2023 CBCA Picture Book of the Year

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Where are you from? Where are you from?

Jordan Collins and Phil Lesnie

(Allen & Unwin)

It seems there’s a ‘gag‘ to answer the question of ‘Where are you from?’ It’s ‘when a mother and father love each other very much…‘ However, this question is repeated too often, so that’s it’s pushed. Thereafter, how might you respond? In fact, how do you make your answer ‘seem slightly okay’?
Could it be to consider ‘the interiors of collapsing stars‘ and then the ‘explosion that made the big bang’? Then again, might it be ‘straight from the centre of the universe‘? Thereafter, what about ‘from the redwood trees,/ Their roots sunk deep into the ground’? Or might it be that this question holds greater water than contemplating How the World Works. In fact, might it be that those who harangue have another purpose? Could it be they want the reason for the colour of the skin, the texture of the hair? Isn’t it a fact, that the interrogator can only see the skin and the hair, rather than the fact that we come ‘from the same ancestor- The primate who decided to walk upon two legs/ For the first time’?
Jordan Collins and Phil Lesnie’s picture book is outstanding. Not only is this a book that needs reading aloud, discussing and sharing, but it’s one to linger over too. Its message and pictures are glorious, breathtaking. In fact, it’s a call to every person, a story of worth, purpose, courage and connection, alongside the need for real appreciation and representation. Where? is utterly wonderful.


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