Friday 28 February 2014

A Cyclone is Coming!

A Cyclone is Coming! by Darlene Oxenham (Fremantle Press)
PB RRP $9.99
ISBN 9-781-922-893-342
Reviewed by Neridah McMullin

The Waarda Series are wonderful little books. In Waarda, Nyungar is the word(s), for talking and sharing stories. Initiated by renowned Aboriginal artist and writer, Sally Morgan, the series is designed to support the literacy needs of Indigenous children in primary school by making books available to them written by Indigenous authors. Of course, at the same time, it will introduce non-Indigenous children to the richness of Indigenous storytelling.

Annie lives with her family in a small coastal town in Western Australia, called Useless Loop. Her aunt, uncles and grandparents all live next door and everyone in town knows everybody. Annie’s grandfather is in charge of bringing drinking water for everyone and when he returns with his truck, Annie visits him along with her dog, Patches. As Pop observes the sky and the sea he tells her a cyclone is coming. They’re not unusual at Useless Loop and everyone knows what to do. But Annie has never been through one before and she’s about to find out how to prepare for it.

Annie’s father explains the damage cyclones can cause, but reassures Annie that all will be okay if they prepare for it and think of it as an adventure. They tie their caravan to a scraper so that is doesn’t blow away. They also tape up the windows and gather up any loose items left lying around. Together, Annie and her family carefully prepare for what’s to come. Then there is nothing left to do but wait.

When the cyclone, finally hits Useless Loop, the family gathers in the kitchen, which is the safest place in their caravan home. The sky darkens and the rain gets stronger and louder. Although Annie is scared, her family help her stay calm. They eat, read and watch movies while the wind howls and the caravan sways. Patches and Annie eventually fall asleep – and when she wakes up - it’s all over. The wind and rain have stopped. Together with her family, they explore the damage caused by the cyclone. Back at school the next day, the children all recount the events of the great cyclone adventure.

I found this little book to be quite scary at times, and my young one wanted to know if this was really a true story. Yes! I told him. But was scary as it was, Annie’s people knew just how to get through it and there was some very practical and re-assuring advice in this story.

Beautifully told, I highly recommend ‘A Cyclone is Coming!’ The Waarda series are ideal first chapter books for new readers.

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