Monday, August 18, 2014

Lola's New Cousin

by Thomas Connelly

Some people find breast feeding confronting, but what happens when the baby gets hungry? She drinks her mum's milk of course.

I went to the Aboriginal Centre in Risdon Cove on National Aboriginal and Islander Children's day, as part of World Breastfeeding Week, to the launch of the children's book, Lola's New Cousin, written by Luana Towney.

This book is more than a simple children's book. Sometimes, a teacher once told me, you will hit a wall, the only way around this wall will be a book. Lola's New Cousin is such a book, adding to our communal toolkit. In her work with aboriginal mums Luana noticed that the decision to breast feed or not depended on the support, and ideas of those around the expectant mother.

In communities and families where breast feeding was frowned upon, for whatever reason, new mums would be hesitant to breast feed their babies. Conversely when breast feeding was embraced by the local community it was relatively easy for women to chose to attempt to breast feed.
Breast feeding may be natural, but for many women it is not intuitive. Successful breast feeding requires a supportive infrastructure to support the mother and child.

Seeing the general lack of education about breast feeding, in particular the lack of family friendly education, Luana Towney did not sit back discussing the problem, but rather used her formidable skills and experience to create a delightful children's book.

Visiting her new cousin, Lola a curious preschooler, sees her aunty feed baby. “Lola has a little giggle. She can see how much baby likes her mummy's milk.” This simple domestic activity is given the power of the written word, making it a strong lesson for the little ones.

The illustrations by Rosemary Mastnak are whimsical and gentle, capturing the warm, snug world of maternal love and nurturing. Well laid out with a readable font this book would be ideal for reading aloud to younger children, as well as entertaining and challenging emerging readers.

This gentle, sweet, slice of domestic life cleverly hides the fact that this book is, in fact, a weapon in the fight for better outcomes for children; subtly showing the crucial link between breastfeeding and newborn survival and health. Lola's New Cousin, Luana Towney, National Aboriginal and Islander children's day, Rosemary Mastnak, World Breastfeeding Week

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