This beautifully simple picture book takes young children on a journey from the waterhole, past the river grass, through to the salt water of the ocean. Along this flowing journey, we are invited to meet and count turtles, snakes and fish. A delightful sense of anticipation builds as nine fish heading from the river to the sea eventually encounter a scary shark. Young children will delight in the humour as the ten scared fish swim away from the shark’s big mouth on the final pages.
More than just a simple counting book, this picture book introduces children to the concept of prepositions, as we become aware through the placement of the text and illustrations where the animals are in relation to each other along the winding journey, helping to build the suspense as we slowly approach the big scary shark! The book also provides a gateway for discussion about Aboriginal art techniques, as children explore the richly patterned illustrations from Balarinji art studio. Children may be inspired to try emulating the various types of lines and patterns used in the displayed artwork, such as the flowing lines of the river, which create a sense of movement and momentum, or the traditional Aboriginal x-ray and dot style art techniques seen in this book.
The last page of the book includes the text of the story in Yanyuwa language – which is spoken by Aboriginal families in Borroloola NT, offering an opportunity to explore Indigenous language and culture in an early childhood setting. Ros Moriarty is the founder of Indi Kindi pre-literacy education, and author of the acclaimed 'Listening to Country' – a memoir of her journey with the matriarchs of her husband’s Aboriginal family.