About Backyard Footy

The first book in a joyful black&write! Fellowship-winning picture book series that follows a cast of footy-loving kids as they hop through the backyards of their neighbourhood in the Kimberley, collecting equipment and friends to play with as they go.

Jy is playing football alone in his small backyard in the Kimberley, but when he accidentally kicks the ball over the fence, a footy adventure begins! Footy by yourself is fun but playing with mates is better.

Praise for Backyard Footy

‘There’s a real sense of energy and fun to this upbeat children’s picture book by Jaru/Kija kids’ author Carl Merrison’ THE WEST AUSTRALIAN

‘Hits the mark with its complete joy for the game and, even better, for its spirit of mateship’ BOOKS+PUBLISHING

‘A superb energy flows through Backyard Footy . . . When the punchline comes, it’s very easy to agree: “Footy by yourself is fun but playing with mates is better”‘ SOUTH SYDNEY HERALD

‘Joyful . . . Merrison’s belief in and commitment to fostering community and kids’ wellbeing shines through on every page of this latest big-hearted adventure. Backyard Footy is a precious picture book that conveys a simple but vital message . . . A heartwarming and immersive read for any young reader’ BETTER READING

‘A vibrant, fast-paced picture book . . . A very enjoyable read’ READPLUS

Need more testimonials? Click here for comprehensive list of reader reviews. 

About Backyard Tennis

Follow a cast of sport-loving kids as they hop through the backyards of their neighbourhood in the Kimberley, collecting equipment and friends to play with as they go, from award-winning creators Carl Merrison and Samantha Campbell.

Mum loves tennis, but we don’t have a court out here.One day, she gets out her old racquets and takes me into the backyard. 
‘I’ll teach you how to play,’ Mum says, and our tennis adventure begins.

A joyful series that celebrates sport, where the fun only grows with family and friends!


An empowering, uplifting picture book about what it is that makes you who you are, from the award-winning authors of Black Cockatoo.

Spikes on the bottom boots,
my favourite colour boots,
making me too deadly.

Can the shoes on your feet really make you jump higher? Walk taller? Dream bigger?

A joyous, empowering story about finding confidence within yourself, boots or no boots, from the award-winning authors of Black Cockatoo.

‘The text has a punchy sense of addictive rhythm . . . [and] the story is full of heart’ Books+Publishing

‘Highly recommended’ Sunday Telegraph

‘A positive and empowering story about finding yourself’ ReadPlus

‘This is a joyous, empowering picture book about finding confidence within yourself and loving life. Gorgeous and vibrant, it’s sure to be a hit’ Readings

Need more testimonials? Click here for comprehensive list of reader reviews.

Black Cockatoo is a vignette that follows Mia, a young Aboriginal girl as she explores the fragile connections of family and culture. Mia is a 13-year-old girl from a remote community in the Kimberley. She is saddened by the loss of her brother as he distances himself from the family. She feels powerless to change the things she sees around her, until one day she rescues her totem animal, the dirran black cockatoo, and soon discovers her own inner strength.

A wonderful small tale on the power of standing up for yourself, culture and ever-present family ties.

Praise for Black Cockatoo

“This deceptively simple tale has a quiet power… It is a reminder that gentleness is a form of strength.”
 Judges comments, Readings Children’s Book Prize

“A delicate balance is maintained between presenting Indigenous culture in a way which inspires admiration and presenting the challenges faced in communities.”
 Judges comments, CBCA Book of the Year: Younger Readers 

“This is a highly original and gentle small tale set in the Kimberley about the power of standing up for yourself, your culture and ever-present family ties.”
 Halls Creek Herald

“Subtle and touching, Black Cockatoo reaches into the heart and will speak to anyone’s need to find their place in this world and the freedom to do so.”
 Writing WA

“Reading Black Cockatoo I am not only proud of these local writers but also so proud to read stories that as a bush community person I can identify with and share with our kids so they can be proud of their lifestyle and their differences.”
 Tammy, reader review


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We first met Mia in Black Cockatoo, as she navigated her way through culture, Country and familial ties. Dirrarn follows Mia as she finds herself at boarding school and the challenges of living thousands of kilometres away from home, family, and the big sky country she loves. Mia along with her best friend, Naya, negotiate new friends, new ways of thinking and new ways of being in a different world. As Mia wrestles with all that is unfamiliar, she soon must learn to stand in her truth when confronted with unending challenges.

The dirrarn (black cockatoo) is Mia’s totem animal. It provides her with the strength and freedom to stay connected to her world, even when she is a long way from home. It is this totem she draws upon. Dirrarn is a sensitive story on the power of place, personality and the honour of standing up for the truth.

Praise for Dirrarn

“Readers will find Mia to be a relatable protagonist…this story about stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing a life of possibilities will appeal to upper-primary and lower-secondary students of all reading abilities.”
– Writing WA, Melinda Tognini & Izabellah, aged 14


This is another important book. It exposes the challenges these young kids have. The straddling of the two worlds to get a good education. Acceptance by others. The importance of education to make change. Simply written but so much to understand and learn from.” Good Reading Magazine


Black Cockatoo won great acclaim and I feel sure that the sequel will too. It is a welcome addition to books for young people about First Nations children and their experiences.” Reading Time CBCA


While Dirrarn references the earlier story about Mia in Black Cockatoo, readers can enjoy one without the other, although both come highly recommended. … this story about stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing a life of possibilities will appeal to upper-primary and lower-secondary students of all reading abilities.” Writing WA


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An action-packed AFL illustrated series for ages 8+, from the award-winning authors of Black Cockatoo and My Footy Boots.


I’m about 35 metres out from the goal and, running on instinct, I do a snap kick of the ball. I watch as the footy flies through the air.

Will it bend enough?

I can hear the roar of the crowd but my focus is on that red ball. It flies through the big white sticks.

It’s a goal!

I’m Jy Farrar and this is my first professional match and the dream I had to play AFL since I was a kid in outback Halls Creek has finally come true.

Let me tell you the story of how I got here – about my mates, my family, growing up in the Kimberley around the bush and the red dirt and spinifex and goannas, playing footy and going to boarding school far away from home.

An AFL adventure story based on Jy Farrar’s life, by award-winning authors Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler.


Deklan ‘Dek’ Archer and his mates arrive at school to a tense atmosphere. ‘Old Mate’, Mr Henry, who has lived in town for a long time, has been found murdered. He had been selling grog on the black market for years. To add to these worries, the Year 12s, who were on camp, are now missing. The police think there is a link between the missing students and the murder.

Dek and his friends are torn. Dek and Willum, his best mate, have an important football match that evening – professional recruiters are in town. Neither wants to let their coach down but they feel they must search for their friends.

Deklan’s grandfather, a renowned tracker with certain otherworld gifts turns up, and expects him to go bush. This choice will change Dek’s life and family forever.  
A journey that moves deep in to an ancient landscape uncovers secrets, and the past, which is never far away, continues to call them. 

Both are tracking the truth but something is watching and hunting them.

Praise for Tracks of the Missing

“…a gripping First Nations thriller…Ultimately this cracking read veers off into unexpected places while exploring all the shades of grey that exist between right and wrong, black and white, justice and forgiveness. The dual authors expertly build tension while layering powerful messages about intergenerational trauma, racism, Indigenous culture and spirituality.”
– Frances Atkinson, The Age

“…a terrific adventure set on a remote Indigenous community that explores the culture and the impacts of colonisation.”
– Andrew Pople, 2SER

“Tracks Of The Missing is everything I could have wanted and more…I hope everyone picks up this book. I hope it is read by young mob who deserve to see themselves and their communities represented in every kind of story they read – including in murder mysteries and horrors.”
– Little Black Duck Books 

“Tracks of the Missing highlights First Nations culture and social issues through a Goosebumps-style read.”
– Emma Ruben, NIT 

“A compelling young adult mystrey novel that places regional First Nations teen issues front and centre.”
– The Northern Rivers Times


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