In North-East Arnhem land, the Yirrkala community has recently celebrated the launch of a new book, Wanhaka Yothu Yiŋaṉi written in Dhuwaya, a Yolŋu language.
Wanhaka Yothu Yiŋaṉi, translates to Where is that Baby Snake?, and was written in the school’s Literature Production Centre by Teacher Linguist Yalmay Marika-Yunupuyŋu, Literacy Worker Ms Marika and LPC Supervisor Jake Stockley.
Yalmay explains that “we’ve got a moto, Always together, yäka gana (not alone). It is a collective work.”
The story is designed like a game of hide and seek, where the reader is always looking for the baby snake, and encounters many other animals along the way.
The Literature Production Centre (LPC) has been part of the school since the 70's, and supports the Yolŋu Indigenous Languages and Culture program including, Yolŋu Matha, Galtha Rom and Garma Maths, as well as supporting Yolŋu teachers to deliver the school’s bilingual program.
Wanhaka Yothu Yiŋaṉi is one of six non-commercial books produced with illustrations from one of the ILF’s most popular titles, No Way Yirrikipayi, which were drawn by students from Milikapiti School on the Tiwi Islands.
Yalmay explained that this text wasn’t as hard to translate as many others that they have done. “All we had to do was write the story to the pictures in Yolŋu Matha, and then provide the English translation. It was a collective work on this.”
The group wrote the book first in Dhuwaya, and then translated it to English so that everyone can understand.
Dhuwaya is taught at Yirrkala bilingual school, and is the First Language of almost all students at the school.
The story is aimed at early childhood students, the little ones are only just learning how to read. Because of this, the three authors have made an effort to keep the text nice and simple, allowing readers to explore different Australian animals until they finally find the baby snake.
At the end of 2021, the community celebrated the launch of this book at the local art centre, sitting inside to avoid the hot weather.
“It was great because we could project it to the big screen as well. And everyone had their own book to follow along with!” says Loredana.
The launch included children of all different ages, and at the end of the event they got to take a book home with them.
They can read it to their parents, or for kids that are not quite ready to read yet, the parents can read it to them!
Having books written in Dhuwaya is important because the school is bilingual, and they want to keep their language strong in the future.
Keeping Dhuwaya strong “was the wish and aspiration of our Elders, and that is why today we are keeping the bilingual program strong,” says Yalmay.
Wanhaka Yothu Yiŋaṉi is a non-commercial title and is not available to people outside of the community.
However, if you are interested you can check out our online bookshop to see our collection of books in different languages.