Review Blog

Jul 18 2012

Hist! by C. J. Dennis

cover image

Ill. by P. J. Gouldthorpe. Walker Books, 2012. ISBN 9781921977749.
(All ages) Highly recommended. A new edition of one of my favourite poems, Hist! by C. J. Dennis and beautifully illustrated by Peter Gouldthorpe, is a real treat. I loved this poem as a child, taught it to many classes when a teacher, and now will introduce it to my grandchildren, who are certain to love it as well.

Hist! . . . Hark!
The night is very dark,
And we've to go a mile or so
Across the Possum Park.

The rhyme and rhythm of the poem flow beautifully and it is one that is easy to read aloud and easy to memorise - just right for performance poetry in the classroom and great for scary fun when reading it aloud to a small group or one or two children.  
Peter Gouldthorpe's linocut illustrations are an inspiration for the imaginative child. Torchlight gleams up at the faces of the three children who go exploring at night . Mist swirls through black trees and mokes and possums huddle in the trees. Black images of witches, skeletons, spiders, birds and bats lurk on an aqua border on every page. Written in a time when children had more freedom, Gouldthorpe's last picture of the trouble that the children are in for going out at night is a lesson for children as well.
This edition has a commentary written by Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright and information about C. J. Dennis.
Peter Gouldthorpe writes about his inspiration for the book and his realisation that the poem 'Wasn't really about what actually happens, but how the imagination can run wild in the dark'.
This is a beautiful addition for any library and a great gift for children.
Pat Pledger

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