Adventures of the little black trackas – review

Written by Merle Hall
Graphic design and illustrations by Gary Saunders
Neenann: Mill Park, VIC.

To celebrate NAIDOC week 2015, AWCH purchased Adventures of the little black trackas, we are celebrating by looking at a children’s resource which “studies Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and crafts”. The resource is a collection of four books, “welcome in Bangerang” country poster and CD, created for children aged 1 to 8. The children’s books and CD teach Bangerang language words. Through these vibrant books children discover Bangerang culture and learn about habitat and environment.

The books can be read to individual children or within a class. With 15 suggested activities written on the back cover, children can be inspired to write or create their own artworks. Local Aboriginal words can be substituted for Bangerang language words for people from a different Nation/Clan area.

The four books are:

  • Adventures of the little black trackas: Yedabila (animals)
  • Adventures of the little black trackas: Wala yedabila (water animals)
  • Adventures of the little black trackas: Djunda (bird)
  • Adventures of the little black trackas: Bamanebala (insects)

Each book features a different child who takes readers on a tracking journey. The readers are asked questions, learning Bangerang words as they look closely at the animals, birds, insects and habitat. Each journey starts with an introduction by the narrator who is the little black tracka. Readers accompany the little black tracka and learn about habitat and Aboriginal culture. At the end of each story the focus is returned to the smiling face of the little black tracka and the shared experience.

Graphic design and illustrations are in bright and earthy tones, they are both expressive and wonderfully detailed. The glossy A4 pages and bold pictures make these books useful for classroom reading. The books meet “Victorian essential learning standards VELS level 1 and 2 (pre, grade 1 and 2)”.

Adventures of the little black trackas is available for loan from the AWCH library or can be purchased through the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care, SNAIC distributes this resource on behalf of the Neenann family, publishers. SNAICC writes how the resource supports “the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia of Belonging, Being and Becoming”. Visit their website to find out about the cultural significance of Adventures of the little black trackas.

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian


NAIDOC week 2015

Indigo solves the pzulze – review

Written by Wendy Fitzgerald, Illustrated by Sophie Norsa
Little steps publishing, NSW 2012
ISBN 9781921928987 (hardcover)

A book with a message about a girl who finds out she has dyslexia. She wants to feel normal and to help other people who have dyslexia.”  By Josh, aged 11

Indigo solves the pzulze is a book splashed with vibrant hues, charming watercolour illustrations and the unfolding personal story of Indigo. Without any fuss, ten-year old Indigo describes a bit about herself. She loves acting, netball, horse riding, swimming, playing guitar and spending time with her family. The illustrations depict an energetic and creative girl and so it is interesting to read that although Indigo loves hearing stories she has trouble at school learning to read.

The book’s slightly higgledy-piggledy font matches reversed and jumbled letters of posters on the classroom walls, Indigo doesn’t know why letters jump out at her. Readers understand why reading is difficult for Indigo.  Life for Indigo at school was lonely and girls in her class taunted her. Illustrator Sophie Norsa has drawn these faceless girls in grey and as bystanders. Indigo becomes secretive, hiding her feelings and sitting by herself in the playground at lunchtime. Her sadness is expressed at home when she can’t stop crying.    Her mum says we’ll work this out together.

Here is a turning point. Indigo’s mum walks with her to school accompanied by a whole chorus of birds. A revelation is about to take place! Indigo has some tests and finds that her IQ shows she is clever but she has dyslexia. Indigo and her mum are relieved and now something can be done to help her read letters, numbers and words.

Primary school children and their parents reading Indigo solves the pzulze will learn about dyslexia. Many will relate to Indigo’s personal experience because they have had similar feelings of being isolated and bullied.

A note for parents and teachers at the beginning of the book speaks of the prevalence of dyslexia for children and particularly for girls. The difference between boys and girls behaviour is explained. Girls may try to cover up their reading difficulties which go unnoticed. Many parents may not realise their daughters are struggling and are not getting the help they need.

Indigo solves the pzulze is a book which promotes early support and assistance for children to improve literacy. This has far-reaching implications for people’s lives. Indigo, her mum and Dr Catriona Wallace want to make a difference so they launched the Indigo Express Fund. Purchasing this book will help the fundraising initiative.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can have trouble with reading and writing too. Indigo Express Fund works with the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, MultiLit and the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation. Find more about initiatives to improve children’s literacy through resource links at the back of the book.

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
July 2015