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Black Cockatoo - Carl Merrison & Hakea Hustler CBCA 2019 Shortlist

My plan this time last year was to review all six of the CBCA Shortlisted books in the Younger Readers category. I ended up reading one and a half.... but the one I finished was The Elephant and it was completely fantastic! So I'm trying again this year!

The first book I picked up from the pile was Black Cockatoo. At under 60 pages, this seemed like an easy one to fit in during the school term (and in the middle of reports no less!). Unfortunately, however, there was something missing in this one for me.

Mia is a young Indigenous girl living in rural Australia with her family. Her brother is an angry and out of control teenager. Mia rescues a black cockatoo, a jirran, after her brother injured its wing. Throughout the story, her grandparents share stories of their Aboriginal heritage, many of which mirror Mia's experiences.

Rating: 3 out of 5. At the most. There were elements I really liked but I finished it wanting so much more.

Age suggestion: 8+

Ability range: 8+

Content notes: The authors use a lot of Jaru, an Aboriginal language from Western Australia, while telling the story. There's a glossary in the back, but it's usually not necessary as the context explains most of the vocabulary. I think it's so great to have Indigenous Australian languages represented in children's books, and books like this should be in prominent place in all Australian school libraries. One of my main problems with the story was Mia's brother Jy - he's violent and mean, killing and injuring animals throughout the story. Although this behaviour isn't rewarded, there aren't clear consequences either.

The thing I wanted the most from the story was more time. I would have loved more time discovering the dynamics of Mia's family and her desire to want more from her life. It's just too short!

Make up your own mind and let me know what you think!

Dymocks

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