Review Blog

May 14 2014

The billy that died with its boots on, and other Australian verse by Stephen Whiteside

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Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922077431.
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Australian poetry, Humour. With a childhood entranced by the rollicking poetry of the bush balladists of the like of Banjo Paterson, then finding the humour of C. J. Dennis, Whiteside found writing poetry in the form of rhyming verse, with stories begging to be read aloud, something which he did from a young age.
In this compilation of some of his work, poems are grouped in themes, such as Dinosaurs, the garden or the street, dogs and cats, birds, at the beach or in the snow. Each grouping contains a range of poems suited to younger people and made more pleasurable by being read out loud.
The opening poems about dinosaurs will be a hit with one and all, and I defy people not to hoot and giggle at the thought of a dad and his son trying to make a kennel for a brontosaurus on their back yard, or sympathise with the lad told to tidy his room, or wonder at the number of coffee cups that mum can leave around the house, or laugh at the people who leave their boots out all night in the snow, or in reading the title poem feel just a little sorry for the billy.
There are poems which would be great models in the classroom, poems that small groups of kids would love to read aloud, poems which would be suited for an adult to read aloud, and I can envisage groups of students practising different ways of reading some out loud to the merriment of their peers.
Fran Knight

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