This very clever counting book in both English and Bardi languages features 10 familiar creatures. True Bardi counting is reflected in the numbers one, two and three then the word ‘niimana’ is used thereafter, which means ‘many’. This book is part of the Uupababa series intended as a teaching resource for the Bardi language and counting, as well at providing the basis for understanding Western mathematical counting. Each double page spread features one animal in different poses. The hammerhead shark, for example, features both English and Bardi words, in singular and plural form. In addition to the hammerhead shark, the creatures includes the whale, saltwater crocodile, crayfish, turtles, dugong, snake, fish, seagull and stingray. Wordlists in both English and Bardi, a pronunciation guide and vowel sounds feature at the back of the book.
A clever aspect appears first on the double page with the four crayfish. On the left and right adjacent pages two crayfish each appear along with the number 2, while the number 4 appears in the middle of the page. On the turtle page, there is the number 3 for the three turtles, and the number 2 for two turtles opposite, with a 5 in the middle of the page. The book also includes both singular and plural word forms. Offering the decimal system of numbering alongside a system of multiples encourages lateral thinking and cultural awareness of different ways of counting. So much for a simple counting book! The ‘Bardi Counting Book’ encourages children to return again and again to play with a simple but challenging concept. The appealing artwork features very active creatures in simple forms with an patterned Aboriginal motif background.
Lucy Wiidagoo Dann has cultural connections to the Bardi Jaawi people and has been involved in many language and cultural projects. The illustrator, Francine Ngardarb Riches, was raised on Sunday Island and One Arm Point. She is of Bardi descent. The ‘Bardi Counting Book’ was shortlisted for the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards in 2000.