This is a new title in the Waarda series (Waarda is Noongar for talking and sharing stories and information).
Barlay! is an early chapter book (it’s only 45 pages, you’ll finish it in no time!). It starts with Nan telling Sarah, Jay and Rene a story about the woordatj.
‘One of his jobs is to make sure children behave themselves and listen to the wise things their Elders tell them. If you don’t … ’
Jay and Rene think it’s just a fairy tale. But when they go on a family outing to Rocky Pool, they’re suddenly not so sure. Could Nan’s story about the woordatj be true?
Barlay! has short chapters and the story zips along. There are black and white illustrations by Tracey Gibbs scattered through the book and it’s fun to learn some Indigenous words like koolbardi (magpie) and “Barlay!” (“Look out!”). At the back of the book, there’s some information about the author and a map showing you where Noongar country is.
This is the sixth book in the Waarda series, so if you like this one, you’ll want to read the other five, too!
Today I went into the city to eavesdrop on Indigenous Literacy Day events. At the State Library I arrived in time for a Meet The Author presentation by Gladys Milroy and Sharyn Egan, who were answering questions from an enthusiastic school group. Gladys Milroy has written a title in the Waarda series, The Great Cold and Sharyn Egan was talking about illustrating Dead Man’s Gold (written by Michael Torres).
Off in another room, Cheryl Kickett-Tucker was talking to two more school groups (and her gorgeous baby was with her too!). She talked about how there were different ways you could tell a story—not just writing a book, but also perhaps plays, movies, music with or without lyrics, collage, news stories and even more. She talked about how she loved writing in a diary when she was growing up. (Even if her brother did show it around to everyone and embarrass her!) She also read two chapters from her new book, Barlay!, and showed some photos of the scenery around Rocky Pool, where the book is set.
While the authors and illustrators were off having lunch and resting their voices, school groups were taking part in The Great Book Swap—looking through piles of books on trestle tables at the State Library. So many books!
Next I stopped by the art gallery where two groups of children were busy experimenting with story and art, guided by Sharyn Egan, Gladys Milroy and Sally Morgan. Sharyn Egan talked about how sometimes you need to make lots of little sketches and play around a little to find what it is that you want to draw. And she pointed out there are different ways of looking at things (like an aerial view, rather than looking straight on)—which echoed what Cheryl Kickett-Tucker had said about storytelling earlier.
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting some more WA writers and illustrators, and hearing about where they find their inspiration!