This story was originally written in July 2013 for my playgroup, Lavendilly Sunshine, at the request of one of our older children who wanted a story about monsters. I’m afraid it might not have been as creepy as she wanted it to be, but as our playgroup was predominantly 2 – 3 year olds I felt I needed to keep it relatively friendly. I wonder, now, what other story I might have told to satisfy her interest in suitable creepiness?
In our play at Numala Kinder at the moment we have had zombies come to visit the usual ‘mummies and babies’ dramatic play. A little unusual, to be sure, and actually quite amusing, but our four-and-a-half-year old felt very confident that she could handle them. We talked about these zombies, for those who didn’t know what they were, and I must say it was an interesting discussion. I did my best not to guide it, or to censor it, – but I was aware that at least one of our little ones might be thinking of it for a while, and perhaps feeling a little uncomfortable, and we talked about this too.
I found myself thinking about this story, and wondering if it might be a way to introduce the idea of monsters and creepy things as ‘unknown creatures’. By revealing some of the inner truth, maybe this story might help? This story was originally written about the little ‘monster’. For this version, I have made it about the little ‘yowie’, the local wild-man legend of our area, said to have its roots in Aboriginal Dreamtime. There have been many yowie sightings in the Gold Coast Hinterland, and so if we are going to be talking about it, then at least we can explore a local legend in a safe environment (we are more likely to encounter a yowie here than we are to fend off a zombie).
And while I don’t always advocate ‘agendas’ with storytelling, I do actually also have another reason behind wanting to share this story- it also appeals to our little mud-dweller children (and my own little messy yowie-child) but perhaps not so much to those who aren’t so fond of the idea of being dirty. I think this story might be helpful in encouraging some natural treasure hunting on the shores of our river when we go down to play. If we get a little dirty, we can embrace our inner yowie for a while, and then we can wash it off 🙂
About the language used in this story – I have also used Yugumbeh words to name the birds in the story. The more we use them, the more these words will find life in our language.
Little Yowie Wants to Play
Written by Jennifer McCormack, for Numala Kinder, October 2014
There once was a little creature everyone called a little yowie. She was not a very big yowie, but she was a very smelly one. Her teeth were green and slimy and her breath smelled very bad. Her nails were long and curly and black with dirt and the shirt and pants she wore were all ragged and torn and faded. Her hair was long and tangled with bits of sticks and straw and feathers and mud stuck in it. There was so much hair you couldn’t quite tell where yowie began and ended underneath it all. One thing that wasn’t yukky or smelly or sticky was the little yowie’s eyes. They were soft and kind.
This little yowie just loved being outside! She would run through muddy puddles and climb trees. She would build things with wood and find fantastic places to hide in the bush. She just loved hunting through the weeds and undergrowth looking for treasures. The little yowie kept all her treasures in a shoe box tucked under her bed and I’ll bet you can guess what her bed looked like! Just like the yowie it was a tangled, smelly mess!
The little yowie had a great time playing on her own but she also loved to play with friends. They never stayed long though, even though she had lots of fun ideas for play time. Her friends would stay for a little while, but then they would wrinkle their nose and run away.
“Come back!” she called, but they often wouldn’t come back for days.
The little yowie very soon become lonely. One day while she was building a bush cubby she saw Wumbin Pigeon sitting in a nearby bottlebrush tree. “Hello!” said the yowie, “do you want to help me build my bush cubby?”
“No thanks,” said Wumbin Pigeon, “Even though you are good at building with sticks like I am, you are too smelly! But I wouldn’t mind some of those bits of straw in your hair for my nest!” Wumbin Pigeon plucked out some straw and flew away.
Sadly the little yowie kept working on her own. When she looked up in the tree above her bush cubby she saw Geira Cockatoo sitting there. “Hello!” said the yowie, climbing up the tree, “do you want to climb with me?”
“No thanks,” said Geira Cockatoo, “even though your finger nails look long enough to be claws like mine, you are too grubby! You might make my white feathers dirty.” Geira Cockatoo shook out his yellow crest and flew away, screeching.
The little yowie was sad. She wandered down to look for treasure among the grasses that grew beside the river. Perhaps she’d find something pretty to put in her treasure shoe-box. As she hunted near the river she saw Mara Duck. “Hello,” said the little yowie, “would you like to help me look for treasures by the river?”
“No thanks,” said Mara Duck, “I am surprised you can find anything at all through hair like yours!”
The little yowie felt sad, she really was a lovely little yowie! But no one would stay to play. She leaned forward to look into the river for something glittery she saw in there and ended up looking at the scariest thing she’d ever seen! She screamed and the thing in the water screamed, showing its green slimy teeth! She lost her balance and fell with an enormous splash in the river and thrashed about in the water trying to get away.
When she finally got out of the river she turned around and had another look to see if that scary thing was in there. Instead she saw something very different! She saw a girl with long knotted hair and kind eyes – and she heard Mara Duck and Geira Cockatoo and Wumbin Pigeon laughing and laughing.
“What are you laughing at?” She asked, “That’s not very nice! There was a yowie in the river and it scared me!”
“That yowie was you,” giggled Mara Duck, “When you fell in and splashed about you had a big bath, probably your first in a long long time. Now you are clean again!”
Wumbin Pigeon flew down with a twig to brush her teeth. Geira Cockatoo combed out the tangles and sticks and straw from her hair with his claws. Mara Duck rubbed her all over with her beak to wash the last of the mud away and the little yowie was at last a little girl.
“Thanks,” said the little girl, “Do you want to play?”
“Yes!” said Wumbin, Geira Cockatoo and Mara Duck.
And they did. They all searched for natural treasures by the riverbank, and filled the treasure box with beautiful discoveries. And it wasn’t long before the little girl got all dirty again.