In mid March, children’s author and ILF ambassador Alison Lester, along with our Program team Tina Raye and Cindy Manfong, spent a week in Warburton, WA. The aim of the trip was to launch our exciting Book Buzz Publishing Program, which is about engaging families in producing books for their children that have local content and are in the home language.
“Alison selected wonderful art supplies which we brought out with us,” explains Tina. “Paper, paints, crayons, markers, coloured tissue paper.”
Each day, a group of playgroup families developed illustrations for two new board books for babies and toddlers in Ngaanyatjarra, the main language spoken in the remote community. There were camels, kangaroos, dingoes, and emus, and landscapes like sand hills, bush and waterholes.
“Once people got started, there was instant silence, even among the one-year-olds, as everyone concentrated on drawing and sponge painting,” said Tina. “Then everyone got really excited when we lifted up each stencil to reveal their animal”
The Warburton playgroup has been receiving books through the ILF Book Buzz Program for the past 7 years. And these new books will supplement the translated books already being used in playgroup story time sessions.
Getting to the remote Ngaanyatjarra Lands involved a good couple of days’ travel for the ILF team, flying to Uluru and then making the long journey by 4WD on bumpy, dusty roads. Warburton is over the NT border, south of the Gibson Desert.
The assistance and guidance of the playgroup coordinator Anne Shinkfield, who reads Ngaanyatjarra books during story time, and elder Beryl Jennings, Ngaanyatjarra speaker and who has translated many of the books, were invaluable. Linguist Jan Mountney will assist in final checking of the Ngaanyatjarra text.
“It’s a wonderful project to be part of,” says Tina, “creating these books and knowing the they will be read and treasured by the families. I can’t wait to see these books in the community.”
The books will be produced over the next few months and in Warburton Playgroup later in the year. Plans are already underway to roll out the Book Buzz Publishing Program in other remote communities in the second half of 2017 and into 2018.