The umpire quickly beckoned Landy to his mark. Just as he was about to kick the ball, someone else yelled, ‘Aren’t you a smartie pants? You can’t kick a goal from there!’
Landy stumbled, lost his concentration and kicked from the side of his boot…
Then he frowned and looked down at his pants. Smartie pants? Does that mean my pants are smart?
Colloquial expressions like smartie pants and too big for your boots, words with two meanings, and even expressions of social nicety such as saying thankyou are among the many challenges for learners of English as a second language. In Badudu Stories, thee difficulties are explored through characters learning to speak English at a remote school in central Western Australia. The characters deal with the complexities of English while also having common childhood experiences – playing football, forming friendships and learning to fit in.
The stories draw on author May L. O’Brien’s childhood experiences at Mount Margaret Mission, and as a teacher in rural and metropolitan schools, though the stories have a contemporary rather than historical feel. The stories were published as picture books in 1994 and have now been reproduced in one volume, suitable for primary aged readers.
Badudu Stories, by May L. O’Brien, illustrated by Angela Leaney
Fremantle Press, 2014
Available from good bookstores or online.