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A Kunwinjku Counting Book - Gabriel Maralngurra

A Kunwinjku Counting Book

By: Gabriel Maralngurra

Hardcover | 2 June 2022

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One crocodile with many sharp teeth, two snake-necked turtles swimming in a billabong, three water goannas soaking up the sun... Learn to count with the animals of Australia's West Arnhem Land and the traditional art of indigenous Kunwinjku culture.

One, two, three. Nakudji, bokenh, danjbik. Accompanied by illustrations drawing on traditional Kunwinjku art, each of the twelve entries of this counting book showcases a different animal of West Arnhem Land, Australia. From crocodiles and echidnas to wallabies, children and adults alike will enjoy learning the Kunwinjku names for numbers and animals, as well as discovering more about these animals' habitat and behaviour, and what they mean to the indigenous Bininj. Whether teaching you how dragonflies indicate the passing of the seasons or how to catch and cook barramundi, the fascinating Kunwinjku Counting Book offers insight into the complex ecology of West Arnhem Land and the vibrant traditions of Bininj culture.

More than just a counting book, this is also a beautifully illustrated work of art, a tribute to the indigenous people of Australia, and a fascinating nature guide to Northern Territory ecology.
Industry Reviews
A Wall Street Journal Best Children's Book of 2022
A Kirkus Best Nonfiction Picture Book of 2022

A Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of 2023

A USBBY Outstanding International Book of 2023
A 2023 Bologna Ragazzi Award Amazing Bookshelf Selection
Selected for the Society of Illustrators 2022 Original Art Show


"A Kunwinjku Counting Book brings attention to the animals of northern Australia and the language and ancient artwork of the aboriginal Bininj people. Written by Gabriel Maralngurra and Felicity Wright and illustrated by Mr. Maralngurra, this spare and lovely book shows creatures such as echidnas and wallabies rendered in stylized silhouettes with crosshatching known as rarrk, all in earthy colors of black, white, yellow ochre and terracotta." -Wall Street Journal

"Animals include spoonbills, echidnas, turtles, and knob-tailed geckos. The exquisite illustrations derive inspiration in technique, colors, and visual iconography from ancient rock paintings preserved within the region. Intricate ink hatching, or rarrk, 'x-ray style' (the depiction of the animals' insides), and a traditional palette of ochre, browns, white, and black richly distinguish this work. Maralngurra is a member of the Ngaingbali clan. Handsome bookmaking, integral cultural information, and dynamic illustrations interact perfectly. ([Backmatter includes] further information, artist bio, pronunciation notes.)" -STARRED REVIEW, Kirkus

"Ostensibly a counting book, this lavishly produced look at Australian animals is really an art book. Maralngurra, an Aboriginal Australian artist, draws inspiration from the traditional rock art of West Arnhem Land, while incorporating a modern sensibility. The highly stylized and detailed illustrations are done entirely in earth tones, black, and white and feature the trademark x-ray look of rock art. Starting with one large crocodile, the artist counts up to twelve fish... The text includes both the English and Kunwinjku names for the creatures (in contrasting black and russet fonts), accompanied by a short descriptive paragraph with information about habitat, behavior, and whether they are good to eat! The illustrations will reward careful and repeated examination and back matter includes information on the rock art tradition as well as a step-by-step exploration of how the art was created. Also included: a cyclical diagram explaining seasons in the outback, an interview with the artist, and a pronunciation guide." -Susan Harari, Keefe Library (Boston Latin School, Boston, MA), Youth Services Book Review

"Highly recommended. A Kunwinjku Counting Book is a stunning new release celebrating the Kunwinjku language of the Bininj people whose home is West Arnhem Land, a region in the Northern Territory. Artist Gabriel Maralngurra has presented his traditional style of rock painting with a contemporary touch, in a wonderful counting book which showcases twelve different animals on a double page spread with a full-page illustration plus a page of easily accessible and interesting information... In the final pages of the book is valuable information on the Ancient Tradition of rock art, Tools and Techniques, and the seasons of the West Arnhem Land. There is also a wonderful introduction to Gabriel Maralngurra, followed by a Note on Pronunciations. This very special book has a place in all libraries. A wonderful resource for both primary and secondary students." -Kathryn Beilby, ReadPlus

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