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
'Breathe deeply and take your time. The making of a bird is not a thing to be hurried.' '. . . feel your slowly beating heart fill with a kind of sadness, a kind of happiness. For this is when you will know that you have really made a bird.' These are my favourite lines form this beautifully delicate and evocative story. Yes there is a bird that is made, but it is so much more than just a bird. From the delicate bones gathered by the child, to figuring out how to put them together, and then the thoughtful imagining of what is needed for the bird to truly fly, are ideas expertly brought to life in Meg's soulful, meditative text. There is a sense of wonder at every page turn as we follow the journey of the child and the bird in its making. I love Matt's blueprint that forms part of the front cover illustration as this creates the simple deception that there is a blueprint to follow, when in fact there really isn't. His palette of soft, paler hues and tones throughout the majority of the story adds to the ethereal nature of the text. The exquisite, brighter colours of the feathers are a marvellous contrast and help focus the readers' attention on the possibilities of what the bird might do and become.
How To Make A Bird is a story of self belief, individuality, resilience, belonging and limitless imagination, and is a picture book for all ages - not just younger readers. There are so many layers to both the text and the illustrations that you will discover something new every time you read this stunning 2021 CBCA Picture Book Award winner.
Use this story in both primary and secondary classrooms for poetry studies, storytelling, art studies and for maker space ideas. Themes to be explored could include resilience, belonging, imagination, self-awareness, compassion and inventiveness.
Find out more about Meg McKinlay.
Find out more about Matt Ottley.
Published 2020 by Walker Books Australia.
ISBN 9781925381894 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 6 - 12
I would also recommend this book for middle and high school students.