Allen & Unwin, 2018
24pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99
“Follow the bush tracks over the rocks and stones to the coastal hunting grounds…” but be careful as you do because there are wondrous things to see and hidden dangers to avoid along the way. Make a spear, find the fresh water where there seems to be only salty, make a fire to tell others of your approach, catch a crab in the light of the full moon…
Accompanied by vivid, authentic artworks full of colour and detail that we need to pay as much to as the track we are on, this is a call to venture outside and be as in tune with our surroundings as the traditional owners of this country are. The text speaks directly to the reader, inviting them to be part of this adventure and discovery.
This is the perfect introduction for littlies to the lifestyle of those who have been here for so long, as they investigate what is needed to sustain them. Most will have accompanied a parent to the supermarket to buy food, but what if there were no supermarkets? Help them track their thinking back to a time, which still exists, where self-sufficiency is critical for survival.
Central to the illustrations is the track of the journey and while you might not be able to take your young readers to the “coastal hunting grounds”, you can take them around the school or a nearby park, mapping and photographing the journey and speculating on what might live or depend on the natural elements that you pass. Investigating and demonstrating the importance of the flora to the fauna, the cycle of the seasons, and the symbiotic interdependence of Nature regardless of the habitat within which it exists is critical if we are to grow children who appreciate and value their natural environment as much as their built one.
Like its companion, What’s That There? Bush Tracks has a translation of the English into the Yanyuwa language (spoken in families in Borroloola , NT) at the end allowing the young readers of those families to see and read stories in their own language as part of the author’s Indi Kindi initiative as well as demonstrating the power of story regardless of the language spoken, offering those who do not have English as their first language an opportunity to share their mother tongue and its stories.
Both What’s That There? and Bush Tracks are prime examples of the power of picture books for all ages – done well, there is something for all ages of reader!