Anna the Goanna, by Jill McDougall

I had a bike
I really liked
It had no brakes
It had no light…

Opening with the adventures of this bike – and of its rider – Anna the Goanna and Other Poems takes children of all backgrounds on a poetic journey through life in remote communities. Written by the author for the Aboriginal students that’s he taught, to provide some relevant literary experiences, the poems will appeal to Aboriginal students, but will also captivate children (and adults) of all backgrounds.

Some poems capture the fun of childhood, with bike rides, and trips to town and games. Others focus on the sorts of things which might captivate a child’s interest – insects, birds and animals feature strongly here. Still others deal with important social issues including a sobering but insightful look into petrol sniffing in Sad Boys in which a narrator talks about a much loved brother who has been changed by this habit.

The accompanying watercolour illustrations bring alive the colours of the Australian Outback, and capture the mood of each poem, with fun (where appropriate) and also with sensitivity.

This is a beautiful book which kids will love, and which should also find a home in every school in Australia.

Anna the Goanna and Other Poems, by Jill McDougall, illustrated by Jenny Taylor
Aboriginal Studies Press, paperback edition 2008