Black Cockatoo- Our thoughts behind keeping it short

June 18, 2019

We wrote Black Cockatoo short on purpose. In fact when we submitted it to Magabala Books it was considerably shorter- we added three chapters at the last minute.

We know the types of stories that made Halls Creek kids tick. In the classes, you wouldn’t be guaranteed to have the same kids each day- so with our book it could be re-read a few times to catch everyone up or find a new layer of meaning in multiple reads. HC kids are tactile, energetic, fit and funky… but they may not have had a lot of exposure to reading long books or sitting listening to long stories. We wanted our book to appeal to our core audience- the kids in the Kimberleys. So our book had to be short, engaging and relevant.

The reality is that at present Aboriginal literacy is significantly behind students in mainstream classrooms. We wanted our book to work to improve Aboriginal literacy- by providing stories that these kids could relate to and want to read. We made it the perfect size to read in guided reading, or as an independent work package or as a class study for low literacy classes… or a comparison study for higher literacy grades. We made some resources to support the study of the text because we know that remote teachers are often more than just teachers and that their time is precious. Our book was short on purpose.

Keeping Black Cockatoo short was important so that it could be accessible to a wide range of readers. Readers from low literacy backgrounds, maybe an ESL immigrant understanding Aboriginal life and culture for the first time, Aboriginal kids with low literacy, that kid that felt like their face or story was ever actually in a book, the kid that just needed an extension book to read in between other stuff, the kid that has never seen a black face or heard a black story… this book was short for you.

We love that Readings, ABiA and CBCA as well as the Summer Reading Club and Premiers Reading Challenge NSW understood the literary value of our book… even though it is short. We are sorry that some of our reviewers on the net felt that it was too short. We would love to share more of Mia’s story or help you understand what happens to Jy next. We would love to go deeper to show you the other parts of Mia’s life or share with you her successes when she schools away. But Black Cockatoo was not the place for it. Stay tuned…


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