Books & Literature

Book Review: Billie and the Blue Bike, by Ambelin Kwaymullina

PICTURE BOOK: Billie and the Blue Bike is a fun and engaging way to introduce young children to financial literacy knowledge, and is written for Indigenous children in particular.

A story full of lessons and learning for any young child.
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Billie and the Blue Bike is written and illustrated by Palyku woman Ambelin Kwaymullina of the eastern Pilbara region of Western Australia. She is a writer, illustrator and law academic.

This a story about Billie. Billie desperately wants a bike, but Mum does not have the money to spend on a bike. There are too many other necessities like food, clothes and medicine which are much more important. Uncle Jack, instead of giving Billie the money, suggests she works to earn it. Uncle Jack offers her $10 a week to do some gardening.  Unfortunately, Billie is too impatient and wants the bike immediately, so tries to come up with other ways to get the money. And so begins a learning curve where Billie comes to realise that maybe hard work and commitment are necessary to get the things we want. 

Billie and the Blue Bike was written to help Indigenous children learn financial literacy. It takes the reader on a journey of mistakes and bad choices. It shows young children that if we really want something, not everything comes easily and sacrifices need to be made. This book is not only great for Indigenous children. It would be a perfect addition to any junior primary classroom. As well as the maths involved, there could be discussions around what jobs could be done to help the family, brainstorming ideas of how to save for something the child really wants, the value of doing it yourself, the joy of achieving and the value of commitment.

Brightly coloured illustrations, also by Ambelin Kwaymullina, are a perfect addition to the story. They follow the journey of Billie and there are lots of extra opportunities for counting/addition along the way. The double-page illustration of Billie’s gardening job can also be used as a game board. Children could use coins as counters and earn money they have made/designed along the way. The ideas are endless!

We are told the author royalties from the sale of this book are donated to Magabala Books’ Small Seeds program which ensures children from across Australia have access to culturally relevant books. A very worthwhile program.

Billie and the Blue Bike is a book that can be used over and over again by both parents and teachers. Full of discussion points but simple enough for the early reader, it is a perfect addition for any home or classroom library. 

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Magabala Books
Released: 1 February 2021
RRP: $24.99

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