Review Blog

Nov 23 2020

Old man emu by John Williamson

cover image

Illus. by Simon McLean. Puffin Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760898793.
(Age: 5+) Recommended. For fifty years, singer songwriter John Williamson has been entertaining us with his wild and witty songs.
Old man emu was his first hit in 1970 and it is fitting that it be published this year to honour John's debut appearance on New Faces, when he sang this song and won the competition, launching his career.
Everyone can sing along - I cannot imagine there are many people out there who cannot hum along to this song, even if only the last line, about running the pants off a kangaroo! All readers will find it hard not to sing along as this is read out to them, and their voices will sing out as they attempt to drown out that of the person reading the book. As they listen to, read or sing along they will hear of a range of Australian animals the emu encounters: kookaburra, cockatoo, kangaroo, dingo, galah and wedge tailed eagle, all adding to the fun of the rhymes he makes in the song, and the journey they all take.
This book makes an indelible introduction to a range of Australian animals for young readers, allowing them to sing along and enjoy the rhymes, encouraging them to predict the rhyming words, and discern the attributes of each animal represented. The silly look on the emu's face is endearing, and McLean's lively illustrations will evoke a legion of followers, as they spy different things on each page, and then pour over the endpapers covered with line illustrations.
There are videos of this available on Youtube. But the one of John Williamson and Simon McLean reading the book is wonderful.
Themes: Australian animals, Emu, John Williamson, Humour, Verse.
Fran Knight

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