This is the tale of a much-loved and adventurous young cygnet who was given the name Ninni Yabini, little star, because she was born on a night when a small star shone brightly in the night sky. Her mother and father, Djidar and Maali, had made a nest of sticks and river grasses for Yabini to keep her safe and warm. They played with her and cuddled her every day. One day, when heavy rain fell, Yabini’s nest was swept away. This made everyone sad, especially Yabini’s mother Djidar, as it was her task to build the nest. But with the help of Yabini’s father Maali, they soon had another, stronger nest built. While Maali and Djidar were putting the finishing touches to the nest, Ninni Yabini saw a willy-wagtail and decided to chase him. She soon became lost and scared, and then night began to fall. That was when Yabini saw a little star shining brightly in the sky and followed it all the way home. Safe and warm in her nest, Yabini feel asleep as her parents sang a lullaby about that same little star. Whenever she was feeling lost and alone, Yabini had her very own star to guide her home.
This dual language picture book for readers aged 2 – 5 years old, is based on a tale from the Wadjuk Noongar people of south-west Western Australia and is told in both Noongar and English. It is set near Derbal Yarrigan, the Noongar name for the Swan River. Author Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker is a Wadjuk Noongar traditional owner and was awarded the Member of Order of Australia in 2020 for her significant service to tertiary education, and to the Indigenous community. Professor Kickett-Tucker has brought this traditional story of family, belonging and identity to life with meaningful yet simple text, so that younger readers will be able to read and understand the story in its original Noongar language, as well as its English translation. Tyrown Waigana is a Wardandi Noongar and Saibai Island artist and graphic designer. His illustrations underscore the essence of the story with their vibrant colours and comic-like quality and are a fresh and dynamic complement to the text.
Ninni Yabini is an enchanting new addition to the small, but growing collection of dual language stories that highlight the incredible culture and history of storytelling of our First Nations Peoples.
Supporting teaching themes and ideas could include family, belonging, identity, seasons, indigenous stories and culture, language, indigenous languages, Noongar language, oral storytelling, water birds and black swans.
Teaching notes and activities are available here Ninni Yabini Teacher Notes
Find out more about Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker
Find out more about Tyrown Waigana
Find out more about Noongar Culture and Language
Release date 16 August, 2022.
Published by Fremantle Press.
ISBN 9781760991210 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 2 - 5
Matty has everything going for him - a loving family, great friends, great skills on the soccer field and pretty good grades at school - which should add up to a great life right? Well they did, until recently. When soccer season started this year Matty found he couldn't get himself onto the pitch without sweaty palms, a racing heartbeat and a mind that kept telling him he wasn't good enough. And he couldn't figure out why. Things got worse when he began dodging his friends calls and texts, missing birthday parties, not doing homework and avoiding school. He felt guilty, scared, angry and sad with himself, and all he really wanted to do was sleep the world away. But one morning his dad convinced him to go for a walk in the local national park where they came across an abandoned dog. Matty felt an instant connection to this small, frightened creature. After coaxing him into their car, taking him to the vet and eventually being allowed to adopt him and bring him home, 'Cliff' and Matty become inseparable. Cliff has 'good days and bad days', and as the dog begins to heal, Matty realises that he needs help to heal too. He summons up all his courage to eventually tell his dad that he thinks he might be depressed, to which his dad replies 'You've no idea how brave you're being by telling me that.' This is one of my favourite moments of the book. Kate Foster writes with such clarity, compassion and understanding about Matty's struggles. There is a beautiful empathy and strength that shines through in this story, and the relief Matty feels after he finally tells his closest friends about his depression is palpable. As is the surprise when he discovers that someone else his own age, whom he would never have suspected, is suffering from severe anxiety. This is my other favourite moment in the book as it is Matty's realisation that he is not alone.
Animals, especially dogs (sorry but I'm totally biased about this!) are the perfect listeners and companions for when we're not feeling great. They know when we need a snuggle and will goof around with us when we're happy. They are like mirrors into our souls, emotional soothsayers, and seem to have an innate understanding of exactly what we need at any given time. Cliff was Matty's ideal companion.
Kate's own experience with depression has no doubt given her an invaluable, first hand insight into this illness. Her writing is filled with emotion, and the story is meaningful and transparent without being patronising or reductive. This is an important, must have, highly recommended novel for upper primary and middle school.
Matty is not alone as a young man suffering with depression as, according to the Beyond Blue organisation, one in seven young men aged between 16 and 24 experience depression or anxiety each year. If you are suffering from mental health issues you can contact Headspace, Kids Helpine or Reachout.
Themes for teaching could include mental health, depression, anxiety, friendship, courage, self awareness, dogs, pets as therapy, families and father-son relationships.
Find out more about Kate Foster.
Release date May 4, 2022. Published by Walker Books Australia
ISBN: 9781760654719 (PB)
Highly recommended for ages 9 +