Review: Common Wealth

Artist, storyteller, poet/lyricist, performer and advocate for his people, Gregg Dreise is a multi-talented man whose picture books first assaulted our senses seven years ago. 

Since the publication of Silly Birds Gregg has continued to delight his audience with his books which have predominantly been for younger readers.

This stunning new work is a sophisticated picture book for older readers and truly offers just so much on so many levels. 

Gregg has expressed his thoughts on the important issues dividing First Australians from the rest of the population: taught history, wording of the anthem, the national flag and more, through the medium of slam poetry making this one of the most powerful and persuasive texts I have read for some time.

The text is accompanied by Gregg’s trademark illustrative style – bold, vibrant, deceptively simple but creating complex visual statements and with additional subtle messages embedded within, each double spread packing a mighty impact. The artwork combines traditional Aboriginal style with confronting symbolic representations of oppression, greed, hate and murder but always moving the reader forward to a point of awareness and realisation of past, present, and future.

Readers will be inexorably drawn into each vista and there will be much to unpack through discussion and reflection whether as part of a classroom unit of work, a discussion on ethics or a literary chat.

There is no hint of creating division here. The intention of this work is to promote unity, respect and equality with strength and dignity.  It is not just reconciliation that Gregg has taken as his focus but indeed our combined acceptance and understanding of our increasingly multicultural society, with an implicit demand on our government to make all Australians, old and new, of equal status, opportunity, and rights.


This is simply outstanding – there is no other word for it. In my opinion it is a must for every school library and as a direct teaching focus for students from mid-primary upwards. It is a particularly timely release with National Sorry Day (26 May) today. Of course it will be a superb addition to your NAIDOC Week program and with this year’s theme of ‘Heal Country’ most apt.

Title: Common Wealth
Author/Illustrator: Gregg Dreise
Publisher: Scholastic, $24.99
Date of Publication: May 2021
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781760975166
For ages; 9+
Type: Picture Book

May 26, 2021 at 12:36AM DimbutNice