Review Blog

Dec 02 2011

A bush Christmas by C. J. Dennis

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Ill. by Dee Huxley. Black Dog Books, 2011 ISBN 9781 742032 07 8.
(Ages 4+) Recommended. Picture book. The C. J. Dennis poem, A bush Christmas (1931) is given a new outing in this beautifully illustrated production from black dog books, now an imprint of Walker Books Australia. With warmth and verve, Dennis has his family visited by an old loner from a shack near Woollybutt. Rogan comes to spend Christmas Day with them each year, drinking with dad, eating mum's generous helpings of turkey and pudding, then entertaining the children with stories of Christmas in England, where the snow and ice contrast vividly with the extreme temperatures of an Australian Christmas.
This story overflows with Australian charm, family togetherness at this time of the year, welcoming a neighbour into their home and having fun with their guest. All the while Mum is in the background doing the hard slog of cooking, serving then clearing up. Dee Huxley wickedly shows the disparity between the eaters and the worker in his lovely portrayal of Mum, red faced and wild haired, wondering about the pile of washing up at the end of the day. Read out loud, read together as a small group or just read alone, this is a lovely poem, with surprising rhymes, redolent of times past, but underlining the important and unwavering values of Christmas. This is a delightful production and makes a welcome change from the plethora of bland Christmas books I have read over the past months.
Fran Knight

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