Maralngurra, Gabriel , Wright, Felicity

A Kunwinjku Counting Book

(2) K-3 Illustrated by Gabriel Maralngurra. This informative and visually sumptuous picture book highlights twelve creatures native to West Arnhem Land in Australia's Northern Territory, from "One crocodile with many sharp teeth" to "Twelve barramundi swimming upstream." Each spread includes a descriptive header in English and Kunwinjku, an Indigenous language of the Bininj, with the numeral and the number color-coded ("2 Two snake-necked turtles swimming in a billabong / Ngalmangiyi bokenh kabene-djuhme kore kulabbarl") along with the name of the creature ("Northern snake-necked turtle / Ngalmangiyi"). Brief, clear paragraphs in English, with interspersed Kunwinjku vocabulary, follow, with details about each animal's behavior, diet, appearance, relationships to humans, protected status, and other information (such as how good they are to eat--or not). ­Facing pages feature gorgeous illustrations "inspired by rock art that is thousands of years old," with the creatures depicted in precise lines and crosshatching, deeply inked color blocks, strong black or white outlines, and a limited palette including ­striking matte umber backgrounds for every image. Maralngurra is cofounder of a thriving Aboriginal arts organization and (per an appended note and interview) acts as an "ambassador for Bininj culture": "I want people all over the world to learn something...and maybe come over and visit." Back matter includes more about cave paintings and about ancient Bininj art and techniques still used today; the six seasons of West Arnhem Land and their effect on flora and fauna; and a pronunciation guide.


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