Thursday 22 September 2022

Noongar Boodja Waangkan: Noongar First Words

Noongar Boodja Waangkan: Noongar First Words by Jayden Boundry, illustrated by Tyrown Waigana (Fremantle Press) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN: 9781760991975

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

This book is a fabulous introduction to everyday nouns, verbs, and adjectives in the Noongar language of the First Nations peoples who inhabit the south-west of Western Australia. It moves from family members and parts of the body, through plants and animals, and on to time, numbers, colours, and more. At the end, there is an interesting section that covers ‘Noongar things’ such as karli (boomerang), miro (spear thrower), and woonda (shield).

Jayden Boundry is Wadjak Balardong Noongar and Badimaya Yamatji, so he is more than qualified to teach the Noongar language. His choice of words is suitable for both Noongar children keen to connect to their culture, and non-Aboriginal kids who would like to learn about Indigenous vocabulary. Suitable for all ages, the book helpfully includes a QR code that directs readers to a pronunciation guide.

A Wardandi Noongar and Ait Koedhal artist, Tyrown Waigana has created an appealing array of fun and colourful cartoons to accompany the words. While they digest the text, little eyes will also absorb the subtle nod to multiculturalism in the varying skin tones of the people. The animals and birds are particularly adorable and will certainly captivate young readers.

A unique take on the ‘first words’ concept, this book deserves a place on every child’s bookshelf – especially as the United Nations has declared the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, beginning in 2022. By learning the Noongar language, kids of all ethnicities will become more tolerant, compassionate and djoorap (happy).

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