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New apps for kids bring two popular Indigenous stories to life

Found in: News

Two popular Indigenous picture books, including one by Pilbara author Ambelin Kwaymullina, have been transformed into apps suitable for Android and IOS tablets – a first for West Australian children’s books.
The apps have been created by writingWA, the state’s peak body for writing and associated activities, to encourage literacy and help kids to keep discovering the joys of reading by bringing them to life.

Mamang, written by Kim Scott, Iris Woods, Roma Winmar, and the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project, is a beautifully- illustrated story of a brave young man travelling the seas in the abdomen of a large ‘mamang’ or whale.  He squeezes the heart of the whale and sings an old song, which spurs the whale on to take him on a special journey, transporting him far west of his home country where his life is changed forever.
Mamang captures the deep spiritual connection between the sea and the Wirlomin Noongar people of WA’s South coast, and was created to help preserve their language and culture.  Users of the Mamang app can select narration in either Noongar or English languages with options to either read along or read alone.  An audio and written glossary provides translations.
Caterpillar and Butterfly is a simply written and stunningly illustrated book by Ambelin Kwaymullina, who is from the Palyku people of WA’s Pilbara region.
It tells the story of a caterpillar who lived alone and felt frightened by the huge world around her.  Trapped and lonely in a prison of her own making, Caterpillar is crippled by her fears and unless she can find the strength to overcome them, she will never learn to truly live.
Caterpillar and Butterfly is suitable for younger children and is written in the tradition of Aboriginal teaching stories with simple, lyrical, fable-like language.  The app provides both read-along and read alone settings plus simple and engaging puzzles and games designed to aid memory, visual literacy and numeracy. Ambelin said the story was very close to her heart.  “It tells of the power we all have to transform our realities, if only we are brave enough to do it. I am thrilled to have worked with writingWA to bring the book to life!”
writingWA CEO Sharon Flindell said the app development provided a way to show how a 360-degree approach to content development can work.  “The interactive elements that have been incorporated into both apps are designed to enhance the reader’s engagement with story and language. writingWA is proud to have had the opportunity to create a new life in the digital space for these two beautiful picture books and we have more WA children’s book apps in the planning,” Sharon said.
Both apps were developed by Gestalt Studios.  The hard copy Mamang book is available from UWA Publishing, and Caterpillar and Butterfly from Fremantle Press.
Creation of the apps has been made possible thanks to the Copyright Agency Ltd Cultural, the State Library of Western Australia’s Better Beginnings programme and writingWA’s Literary Lions donor programme.
Each app is suitable for both Android and IOS tablets and is available to download from iTunes and Google Play for $2.49 each - just search for ‘Mamang’ and ‘Caterpillar and Butterfly’.
Google Play download addresses:

iTunes download addresses: (app ID 883563638) (app ID 951598216)

Previews of the apps can be viewed here:

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