Saturday 28 May 2022

Ninni Yabini

Ninni Yabini by Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker, illustrated by Tyrown Waigana (Fremantle Press). HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781760991210 Release date 16 August 2022.

Reviewed by Kerry Gittins

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

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