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Noongar Boodja Waangkan (Noongar First Words)

By Jayden Boundry, illustrated by Tyrown Waigana
Reviewed by Liane McDermott
Jayden is a Noongar language teacher and cultural consultant, didgeridoo player, traditional dancer and storyteller. Tyrown, is a multidisciplinary artist and designer, including painting, illustration, sculpture, animation and graphic design. Both men are descendants of the Noongar people, the original inhabitants of the south-west of Western Australia.
Their sight-word picture book begins with an introduction to the fourteen different language groups of the Noongar people which correlate with the different geographic areas of the Noongar region from Amangoo (Geraldton in the north) to Minang (Albany in the south) and Nyanga (Esperance in the far south-west).
The vibrant and appealing illustrations carry the sight words throughout the book, showing Noongar words for different family members; parts of the body; aspects of country (e.g., sky, earth, wind); trees and flowers; land, water and sky creatures; the six seasons; now and later (e.g., day, sunset, tomorrow); movement (e.g., hear, run, laugh); greetings and phrases (e.g., hello, look out, welcome); feelings; counting; colours of the rainbow; and Noongar things (e.g., clothes, shield, water).
Apart from the fun and colourful illustrations, I loved learning about the different ways of understanding Noongar country, like yeyi wer boorda (now and later) which includes words for earth’s passing of time; and ngadi-ngadi (more and more) which teaches counting from one to ten, plus boola for many.
As Aboriginal language syllabuses are increasingly being implemented in schools across Australia, including South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia, this picture book will contribute to the critical teaching of Indigenous languages, and particularly for Western Australia where there is a growing number of students learning Aboriginal language in the Noongar region.
Noongar Boodja Waangkan is a valuable resource for teachers and communities which contributes to the preservation and revitalisation of Indigenous languages. Hopefully, there will be boola more.
Teaching Activity #1
Teaching Activity #2
Fremantle Press 2022
1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

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