Illustrated by Balarinji
‘Bush Tracks’ takes its young readers on a meandering journey along the creek, through the mangroves, past the windswept dunes by the salty sea, and finally to the safety of a cave as a wild storm strikes.
This beautiful picture book highlights our symbiotic relationship with the environment – there is fresh water to drink near the sand dunes, sticks with which to make spears to hunt for fish, plants to feed us, and caves to seek shelter in. We are reminded of the importance of caring for country – which in turn will care for us.
Children are taken on a rich visual and lyrical journey, as the text works seamlessly with the illustrations to provide clues via the landscape, seasons, weather, and night sky, as to where we are going. Young children will delight in the elements of danger along the journey as we are warned to watch out for snakes and crocodiles!
The different patterns and textures used in the illustrations provide a vibrant visual display. This book invites a tactile response - Mr 3 loves to trace the illustrated tracks on each page with his finger, making his fingers jump over the water or fire. I love that reading this book together invites such active participation.
Central to the theme of the book is the importance of looking after our environment. This may lead to discussion in a class or home environment in relation to animal habitats, the cycle of the seasons, and the phases of the moon. Related activities might include walking around school or a nearby walking trail identifying features, observing the night sky at home to become familiar with the stars and moon, or studying First Nations culture (such as walking to attend ceremonies).
A translation of the English text into the Yanyuwa language, spoken by the First Nations families in Borroloola, NT, is included at the end of the book. This may open up discussion about the importance of preserving First Nations language and the power of story across all languages and cultures.
Ros Moriarty is the founder of Indi Kindi pre-literacy education, and author of the acclaimed listening to Country – a memoir of her journey with the matriarchs of her husband’s First Nations family.