Billie and the Blue Bike

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Ambelin Kwaymullina, Billie and the Blue Bike, Magabala Books, February 2021, 32 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781925936124

Billie wants a new bike, but Mum doesn’t have any money spare to buy it. Uncle Jack could buy it for her, but he won’t. Instead, he’ll give her a job to earn the money to buy it for herself. But making money takes time, and Billie doesn’t want to wait – she wants the bike now!

In a series of unsuccessful ventures, Billie tries some crazy schemes to earn a quick buck. She soon learns that there is no getting rich quick – hard work is the best way to make money.

Written and illustrated by award-wining Palyku woman Ambelin Kwaymullina, Billie and the Blue Bike is here to teach kids some financial literacy through Billie’s colourful, crazy adventures.

This is more than just a fun story. Kwaymullina teamed up with Yarning Foundation and Bibbulmun Fund, creating Billie and the Blue Bike to help improve the financial literacy of Aboriginal children. She includes fundamental elements of financial literacy, presenting them to children in a fun, colourful way. 

Because of its didactic nature, Billie and the Blue Bike is unlikely to be one of those stories young readers ask for time and time again. But that is not its purpose. Billie’s story is an excellent jumping-off point for parents and teachers to talk about money. There are so many discussion points along the way to stop and discuss. Billie’s short cuts and schemes come to nothing at the end of the day – an excellent lesson for us all. It is only after she puts her head down and works week after week that Billie gets what she wants – $100 to buy herself a new bike!

Brightly coloured illustrations, also by Ambelin Kwaymullina, are a perfect addition to the story. They follow Billie’s journey, providing plenty of opportunities for counting along the way. 

Billie and the Blue Bike can be used over and over by both parents and teachers. Full of discussion points but simple enough for the early reader, it is a perfect addition for any home or classroom library.

Reviewed by Geni Kuckhahn

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