Review Blog

Feb 17 2014

Banjo Paterson treasury by Banjo Paterson

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Ill. by Oslo Davis. Random House, 2013. ISBN 9780857980069.
(Ages: All) Recommended. This treasury of poems by Banjo Paterson contains not only really well known classics like Waltzing Matilda, The Man from Snowy River, Clancy of the Overflow and Mulga Bill's bicycle , but other lesser known poems that are a joy to read. It is arranged in chronological order starting with an introductory poem, Prelude, first published in 1895 and continuing through Paterson's publishing life finishing with Unforgotten, written in 1940 and two poems with dates unknown. There is an index of first words, which will be useful for people who know the first lines of some of the poems, or who can work out what the topic is by reading the first line. Black and white illustrations by Oslo Davis add to the meaning of the poems
The very interesting About section gives a potted biography, telling of Paterson's early childhood growing up in the bush and his adult work as a solicitor, war correspondent, ambulance driver in World War 1 and editor of Sydney Sportsman. The poems reflect his love and understanding of the bush and his experiences as an adult. There is a poem about Federation, Song of the Federation as well as many poems about war and national identity, all of which would be very useful for the Australian history curriculum.
Of course, it is well known poems about the bush that are more recognisable, and still have the power to stir the emotions of the reader as they learn about the hardship the pioneers faced, the larrikins who roamed the countryside and the horses that were coveted. These will be a thrilling read aloud or wonderful performed by a class or group.
Pat Pledger

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