Speaking for our foliage

By Casey Neill

Author Victor Steffensen is giving a voice to the trees.

He wrote picture book The Trees to help future generations manage our landscapes and ensure that they thrive.

“It’s really important to connect with the young ones,” he said.

“It’s also a really fun way to share knowledge and to give different perspectives of knowledge.

“I wanted it to be appealing for all age groups and something everyone could sit down together and read and enjoy.

“It’s a good way for adults to learn with the kids and discuss things like climate change.”

The picture book is about more than just trees.

“It’s really important that we’re taking care of the country and important we’re listening to First Nations knowledge systems in how we care for the land,” Victor said.

“Writing The Trees was actually giving a voice to the trees.”

The book explains how First Nations People have cared for trees for thousands of years, and how the trees cared for them in return through seeds, flowers, wood, and more.

There’s a balance between giving and taking from the land.

In the book are lyrics and a QR code for a video of Victor’s song We Are the Trees.

“It gives me a chance to write music,” Victor said.

“It’s a really fun way to share knowledge.”

His sister, Sandra Steffensen, illustrated the book.

“I’ve always watched her painting,” he said.

“She’s good at what she does.

“It turned out to be perfect. She knows my work, knows what I do, knows what I’m passionate about.

“It’s nice to share the work with my family and friends.”

This book is the follow-up to Victor’s Looking after Country with Fire, which explains Aboriginal burning practices.

The Trees is published by Hardie Grant Explore and available in stores nationally.