In a street on Melbourne’s outskirts a community grows in the months before the Great War (World War 1) – seven houses with very different inhabitants, but brought together by their location and their growing sense of the impact world events will have on their lives.
Now there is a gravel road running east to west where the track once was, but the rivulets the rainwater makes in the gravel look exactly the same as when there were only tree roots and branches bending in opposite directions in that spot. At the crest where the break in the vegetation was and where animals stopped to look about, there now is a church. Its spire is higher than the currawalli trees, even though some of them are two hundred years old. the gravel road is called Currawalli Street.
In a street on Melbourne’s outskirts a community grows in the months before the Great War (World War 1) – seven houses with very different inhabitants, but brought together by their location and their growing sense of the impact world events will have on their lives. Years later, in 1972, Jim, a soldier fresh from fighting in Vietnam, returns to the same street following the deaths of his family. The street is much changed, but the residents have links to those 1914 characters, the third generation of families living in Currawalli Street. The changes in that time are many – more houses have been built, the city has come closer, and cars and electric ovens are the norm. The attitude to war, too, is different, with the monument which stands to the first war a sign of different attitudes to those faced by Jim. Yet in Currawalli Street there are some things that don’t change, especially the sense of community between family and friends old and new.
Currawalli Street is a quiet book. There is no strong single plot line, with multiple strands in both the first and second parts of the book, and the jump from 1914 to 1972 forcing the reader to try to draw the connections between the characters and events of the two times. Whilst this is a little disconcerting, the overall effect is in making the reader examine the characters, following their stories for a while then surmising what may have happened both in the intervening years and, at the book’s end, in the years to come. Some readers will find this frustrating, but others will enjoy the rich layers of character and setting.
Currawalli Street, by Christopher Morgan
Allen & Unwin, 2012
This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.
Billy and Heidi were walking to school. They were in the middle of the World Champion Pine-cone Kicking Contest when they heard the strangest sound.
A great yellow bus screeched to a halt beside them.
‘Oh no,’ said Heidi. ‘It’s that pirate again.’
And she was right.
The pirate is back, and this time he isn’t much bothered about eating porridge – instead he’s driving a yellow bus full of sea creatures, and searching for his ship which has been stolen. Heidi isn’t too keen on going on an adventure with the Pirate, but Billy is more keen – it’s got to be better than going to school, hasn’t it?
Soon the children, the Pirate and his pet pig (who thinks she’s a parrot) are setting sail in search of the SS You Beauty. Along the way they come across hundreds of monkey crabs, a blue speckled mudskipper that wants to drive the bus and a host of other sea creatures.
This funny offering is the sequel to the popular Pirates Eat Porridge, and, like the first book, is brought to life by the gorgeous black and white illustrations by Neil Curtis (of Cat and Fish fame) who, sadly, passed away soon after completing this book.
This is a gorgeous book full of fun and silliness.
Pirates Drive Buses, by Christopher Morgan, illustrated by Neil Curtis
Allen & Unwin, 2007
This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
He was just wondering whether jellyfish might taste like jelly when a large sheet of paper blew in through the window and rolled itself up like a scroll at his feet.
It had TREASURE MAP written on it in big, bold letters.
Suddenly Billy’s sister, Heidi, jumped over the top of the ladder and tumbled into the tree house.
‘There’s a pirate at our door!’
‘A pirate. And a pig.’
‘I’d better go and see what they want.’
When a Pirate turns up on Billy’s doorstop while his parents are at the grocery store, Billy doesn’t know what to do. But the Pirate quickly takes control and Billy and his sister Heidi find themselves setting sail in their house, which has miraculously become a pirate ship. They help the pirate and his pig – who believes he is a parrot – to find buried treasure on Itchy Ear Island, before heading for home.
Pirates Eat Porridge is a rollicking, humorous adventure for readers aged 5 to 9. Youngsters will laugh at the silliness of it all, and adults will enjoy reading aloud to pre-readers. The illustrations, by award-winning illustrator, Neil Curtis, provide plenty of extra humour, with hidden details and Curtis’ trademark quirkiness.
Loads of fun.
Pirates Eat Porridge, by Christopher Morgan, illustrated by Neil Curtis
Allen & Unwin, 2006