Review Blog

Jun 04 2008

Danny Allen was here by Phil Cummings

cover image

Louis Braille Audio, 2008, 4 hours, 4 discs
ISBN 9781742120027 (first published PanMacmillan, 2007)
The delightful story of Danny's childhood in tiny Mundowie in South Australia's mid north is brought to life with this reading by Stephen Pease. Danny and his sister, Vicki and brother, Sam get up to all sorts of mischief on their farm, watched over by their loving and ever present Mum. Any child reading or listening to this book will have all sorts of adventures recalled as the children go to the dam, which is forbidden, to catch tadpoles, or surf the local sand hills, sliding down on pieces of galvanized iron, or building a tree house. Children today will feel envious of the freedom experienced by children in the sixties and seventies in the bush, so different from the cloistered and cosseted experience of childhood in the city today.

When Danny, Sam and Vicki go to the dam, they have great fun catching tadpoles until Vicki spills the can full of the creatures. But when Sam and Danny run back to escape the rain, they inadvertently leave Vicki behind. All hell breaks lose as mum runs barefoot towards the scary place, with Danny running behind having awful images drumming through his mind. The anxiety and fear is marvellously created for us by Cummings, and vividly read by Pease.

All through this endearing tale of childhood, we are treated time and time again with images of an idyllic life, one to be savoured and treasured, but like Colin Thiele's Sun on the Stubble, the end of such a way of life is coming, not because Danny is being sent away to school (as happens to Bodo in Thiele's masterpiece), but because the bank forecloses on a insolvent farm.

Pease's reading is infused with childhood and fun, as he recreates the voices of the children and their mother. He has a clear, unsentimental voice, full of the life and colour of the bush, and he brings an extra resonance to an already wonderful story.
Fran Knight

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