Dilly Dally All Day Long by L. White
White, Leanne. Dilly Dally All Day Long. Albany, Australia: Wild Eyed Press, 2013. Print.
In Australian Aboriginal origin stories, the ancestors dreamed the world into existence. The stories explain how things came to be the way that they are today and often contain morals or lessons. This “Dreamtime” is also frequently featured in Aboriginal art with the figures drawn with dotted, light-coloured outlines. While this book is about Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory and reminiscent of traditional works, it is the work of non-Aboriginal people.
The whole book has a “dreamy” and idyllic feel to it. The story is a simple one. A brother and sister, Ollie and Rosie, head out towards a billabong, or water hole, and on the way they dawdle or “dilly dally”, encountering a variety of animals. They see the brolgas, bee-eaters, cranes, finches, and a lizard, all the while watching out for dangerous crocodiles. They and their friends jump into the billabong to swim, but suddenly someone spots the crocodile and everyone is frightened out. They run home and as they retreat, they revisit all of the animals, in turn, giving the book a repetitive quality that children love.
Irene King’s illustrations remind the reader of Dreamtime drawings. The illustrations, she told me via e-mail, are all drawn first with white chalk outline and then filled in with colour. As a result all the figures have the characteristic white outlines. The similarity of illustration ends there, though. King’s illustration style is more complex, capturing the movement as the children dance with the brolgas and duck and dive with the bee-eaters in arcs and splashes of colour both rich and bright. The multicoloured text, which is printed over the full-page images, is simple and there are many words that appear in contrasting colours to make them stand out from the rest of the text. While one might expect those words to be in a glossary, there isn’t one. They may be part of a planned teaching package, which Wild Eyed Press sometimes creates to go along with books. The front of the book refers the reader to wildeyed press.com.au for colouring books and activities, but at the time of writing this review, the publisher had not yet made them available for this book. It is no matter, though, because the book stands on its own as a pleasant portrayal of Aboriginal children having fun in nature. For even more fun, there is a delightful bit of a twist at the end of the book as well.
This would be a good book to read to a young child or an engaging work for an early reader. Highly recommended for public and school libraries.
Highly recommended: 4 stars out of 4
Reviewer: Sandy Campbell
Sandy is a Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Alberta, who has written hundreds of book reviews across many disciplines. Sandy thinks that sharing books with children is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give.