Yinti’s Desert Dog
Magabala Books, 2019
Primary, Secondary, Upper Primary
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- Art, Aboriginal Australian
- Desert animals
- Great Sandy Desert (WA SE51, SF51)
- Hunting and gathering
- Relationship to place
- Social life and customs
- Walmajarri / Walmatjarri people (A66) (WA SE51-16)
‘Yinti’s Desert Dog’ is based on stories told to Pat Lowe by her husband Jimmy Pike about a dingo that lived with him in the desert in the 1940s and early 1950s. Spinifex the dingo pup is terrified of humans, so when she is separated from her mother and adopted by Yinti’s family, she expects to be killed. Instead, she becomes a part of their family and a prized hunting dog, roaming the Great Sandy Desert with her traditional owners in search of food and water.
Spinifex is closest to the boy Yinti, and when he leaves the desert to work on a cattle station, Spinifex goes with him. But there is a big difference between life in the desert and life on a busy station and, like Yinti, Spinifex must adjust to their new way of life.
The complex story is well written and evocative. It is complemented by Jimmy Pike’s decorative images that feature dramatic textures and patterning. This is especially obvious in the stunning full-colour image on the front cover of the 2019 version of Desert Dog. Unfortunately, the internal images, which are in black and white, do not have the same visual impact. This book was first published in 1997. In 1998, it won the Premier’s Prize for Writing for Children in the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards and was a CBCA Notable Book.
A section entitled ‘A Note on Walmajarri words’ is included at the back of the book, along with extensive information about Pat Lowe and Jimmy Pike, which highlights the different backgrounds of the co-authors. For a start, Englishwoman Lowe grew up in Britain and learnt English and French, while Aboriginal man Pike grew up in the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia and learnt Walmajarri and Wangkajunga languages. Pat Lowe now lives in Broome. Walmajarri man Jimmy Pike died in 2002, but his artwork still hangs in galleries throughout the world. As well as the Yinti series, Pat Lowe and Jimmy Pike collaborated on books such as ‘Jimmy and Pat Meet the Queen’ and ‘Jimmy and Pat Go to China’. Pat also wrote ‘In the Desert: Jimmy Pike as a Boy’.
The 2019 edition of ‘Desert Dog’ is the second book in the Yinti series, which recounts the life of internationally acclaimed artist Jimmy Pike as he develops from a young bushie to a skilled station worker and artist.
Series: Yinti: no 2
- Australian Overseas Information Service. ‘Portrait of Aboriginal Artist Jimmy Pike (Kurntikujarra).’ https://www.naa.gov.au/learn/learning-resources/learning-resource-themes/first-australians/culture-and-arts/portrait-aboriginal-artist-jimmy-pike-kurntikujarra
- The Jimmy Pike Trust, ‘Jimmy Pike: Biography.’ http://www.jimmypiketrust.org.au/about/jimmy-pike/
- Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. ‘Jimmy Pike.’ Jimmy Pike | AIATSIS
- ABC Radio ‘Conversations with Richard Fidler and Sarah Kanowski’. ‘Pat Lowe – Falling in love with Jimmy Pike’ https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-pat-lowe/10145104
- Desert USA ‘The Dingo – Australia’s Wild Dog’ http://www.jimmypiketrust.org.au/about/jimmy-pike/