A spotlight on Black Cockatoo

Black Cockatoo is one of the six books shortlisted for this year’s Readings Children’s Book Prize.

Here’s everything you need to know about this quietly powerful exploration of family and culture.


‘Mia, a 13-year-old Jaru girl, cares for a dirrarn (black cockatoo) injured by her older brother Jy. As the cockatoo slowly regains its strength, Mia’s confidence grows. Mia is a sensitive observer of her world, feeling the undercurrents of tension within her family and community, particularly as Jy makes choices that distance him from their culture and traditions. Although Mia is apprehensive about leaving her home in a remote community in the Kimberley to continue her education, her connection to her culture helps her face the future with courage.

This deceptively simple tale has a quiet power, and is illustrated with moody, impressionistic images that capture the wild beauty and vitality of the black cockatoo. It is a reminder that gentleness is a form of strength.’

Freya Howarth, Chair of the judging panel

Who should read this book?

Young readers who enjoy gentle real-world stories that depict complex sibling relationships, cultural ties and personal strength. It’s also a fantastic discussion-starter about kindness and compassion, and Jaru culture. For ages 10 and up.

authorblackcockatoo

Meet the authors…

Carl is a Jaru/Kija man from Halls Creek in the Kimberleys in Western Australia. Carl loves spending time out bush with his family; fishing, hunting and swimming in waterholes; and footy. Carl was awarded State Finalist of the Australian of the Year Award- Local Hero for Western Australia in 2016 for his work as lifeguard, football coach, Clontarf worker and youth mentor.

Hakea loves to write, draw, read and spend time with family, when she is not adventuring around Australia. She has lived and worked all over the country and has worked as a teacher and Head of Department. She has also spent time volunteering in Areyonga (a remote Aboriginal community just outside of Alice Springs) as a university student.


Read more about the Readings Children’s Prize 2019 shortlist here.

Black Cockatoo

Black Cockatoo

Carl Merrison, Hakea Hustler

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Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt

Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt

Rhiannon Williams

Finalist for the Readings Children's Book Prize 2019In the most thrilling fantasy of the year, a young girl must pretend to be a boy to rescue her brother from a secret order of monster hunters.<br...

$17.99Buy now

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 Read reviewThe Peacock Detectives

The Peacock Detectives

Carly Nugent

Shortlisted for the 2017 Text Prize, The Peacock Detectives is a delightfully Australian story about self-discovery and dealing with change for upper middle-graders.

$16.99Buy now

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Black Cockatoo

Black Cockatoo

Carl Merrison, Hakea Hustler

Finalist for the Readings Children's Book Prize 2019Black Cockatoo is a vignette that follows Mia, a young Aboriginal girl as she explores the fragile connections of family and culture.<br...

$11.99Buy now

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 Read reviewReal Pigeons Fight Crime

Real Pigeons Fight Crime

Andrew McDonald, Ben Wood

In Real Pigeons Fight Crime, Rock and his mystery-solving friends will tackle their first caseload: Why have all the breadcrumbs disappeared? Who on earth is kidnapping bats? And can the pigeons avert a dinner disaster??

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 Read reviewThe Orchard Underground

The Orchard Underground

Mat Larkin

An explosive, suspenseful and utterly brilliant middle-grade mystery for fans of Louis Sachar's Holes.

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 Read reviewElementals: Ice Wolves (Book 1)

Elementals: Ice Wolves (Book 1)

Amie Kaufman

New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman delivers heart-pounding adventure and breathtaking magical inventions in this unforgettable story about finding one's place in a sharply divided world.

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 Special priceReadings Children's Book Prize 2019 Shortlist Pack

Readings Children’s Book Prize 2019 Shortlist Pack

This pack contains all six books shortlisted for the Readings Children's Book Prize 2019, available for a special price.

$79.99Buy now

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