Alison Giles (text), Mark Wilson (illus), Cockatoo Man, Clickcloud Publishing, 12 April 2015, 70pp., $19.79 (pbk), ISBN: 9780994204936
With the carefree action of the young Binnu pulls out his ‘ging’ and shoots down a cockatoo, inadvertently incurring the wrath of his Grandfather and elders in the community. To undo his error Binnu must journey to the Gambinyi gorge and make a tribute to the spirits so the Cockatoo Man will not stalk him and endanger his community.
Cockatoo Man is a short 70 page book easily read in an hour. Essentially there are two main characters and through them readers are granted insight into Indigenous Australia. Gooniyandi language is present throughout the book but used sparingly providing a genuine element of tradition important to Aborigines. The descriptions of the Kimberley country conjure beautiful images that all will recognise. It was however, Binnu’s spiritual journey that made this book special. My personal understanding of Australia’s first people and their traditions is enhanced through books like this. These are not commonplace stories within Australia and Giles has written a believable and touching tale about righting a wrong that could apply to any culture in any country.
Reviewed by Emily Meldrum