Too Many Cheeky Dogs (Bigismob Jigiwan Dog) from Johanna Bell and Dion Beasley is well presented in a colourful hardback picture book. The language used to tell the story is Kriol, which is spoken by about 20,000 Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. There are different words in Kriol depending on where you live. This is a bilingual book, and as such is very important in helping children to see their own language in print, and to hear their own stories.
Initially the set out of the story appears to be complex, but once you understand the system it becomes easier with the first double spread consisting of a page in yellow with yellow writing. If you look at the back of the book there are several translations (as well as English). The next double spread is in red, and has the Kriol language in several forms. If a translation is needed you look at the back under the red writing.
The story itself would delight a young child, as it is humorous, repetitive, and familiar. The first page begins “On Monday I walked to my auntie’s house and guess what I saw?” Each day is named and the places where the child walks would be known. There is also the introduction of numbers and colours, so lots of essential information in a simple text.
Many children have drawn the illustrations and their wonderful naivety emphasises the important features of animals and surrounds. The dogs have very large teeth and claws, while the cakes are colourful and delicious.
Too Many Cheeky Dogs (Bigismob Jigiwan Dog) is an excellent production of a book for educating children in their own language. The illustrations while captivating, tie in with the text beautifully, and the language concepts as well as number facts are cleverly presented. The book has captured the essence of the lifestyle familiar to the children of this culture.
|Johanna Bell and Dion Beasley, translated by Meigim Kriol Strongbala