Jayden Boundry (text) and Tyrown Waigana (illustrator), Noongar Boodja Waangkan – Noongar first words, Fremantle Press, August 2022, 24 pp., RRP $24,99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760991975
Noongar boodja waangkan is an illustrated collection of everyday words in the indigenous language of the Noongar nation of south west Western Australia. It takes the format of a picture book with written transliterations of Noongar words and their English translation, each illustrated by bold, playful, coloured images. Topics covered are relevant to children’s everyday experience, including family relationships, body parts, plants, numbers, colours, emotions, animals, body movements, greetings and also a special page for traditional Noongar implements.
Waigana’s images have an energy that creates an engaging and humorous tone for a book that could otherwise be a dull list of words. I love the brightly coloured Aboriginal dot patterns on the front cover, the variety of illustration styles within the book, the distinct, clear images of animals and plants and the cartoon style for depicting human movement and emotions.
Recordings of the author clearly pronouncing the book’s Noongar words, provided on Fremantle Press’s website, are an important accompaniment for hearing the correct pronunciation. Colourful school lesson activity sheets, linked from the publisher’s webpage, are terrific teaching resources.
The land of the Noongar First Nations people includes some of the major cities of southern W.A. – Esperance, Albany, Bunbury, Perth and Geraldton – making this book specifically relevant to kids living there. And it’s also a great resource for kids anywhere in Australia to experience the sound and feel of an Australian First Nations language.
The cute, playful feel of the illustrations make it relevant for the early primary years – about 6-9 years old.
Reviewed by Barbara Swartz