There’s a very funny insect that you do not often spy,
And it isn’t quite a spider, and it isn’t quite a fly:
It is something like a beetle, and a little like a bee,
But nothing like a wooly grub that climbs upon a tree.
Many Australian parents (and grandparents) would remember learning the lines above – from the poem The Triantiwontigongolope. Now the poem, and many others, is available for a new generation of young Aussies to enjoy, with the rerelease of A Book for Kids. First published in 1921, and enjoyed at home and in schools ever since, the book has been reproduced with the original illustrations in black, white and red, and with titles and page headers in red. The addition of a foreword by Andy Griffiths will help draw young readers in, and the stories and poems will do the best.
Although some of the language and subject matter will be unfamiliar to children, the sense of fun is timeless, and the ‘old fashioned’ material will have a novelty value rather than make the text inaccessible.
Along with the aforementioned Triantiwontigongolope, the book includes poems such as The Ant Explorer and Hist and stories including The Little Red House. This is a book for children of every generation, and one which parents and grandparents will enjoy sharing.
A Book for Kids, by C. J. Dennis
This edition black dog, 2009
The sun burns hotly thro’ the gums
As down the road old Rogan comes –
The hatter from the lonely hut
Beside the track to Woollybutt.
He likes to spend his Christmas with us here.
He says a man gets sort of strange
Living alone without a change,
Gets sort of settled in his way;
And so he comes each Christmas day
To share a bite of tucker and a beer.
Whilst in recent years there have a wonderful range of children’s book offerings which attempt to reflect what Christmas is like in Australia, in 1931, when CJ Dennis wrote A Bush Christmas, Christmas traditions were still largely influenced by Northern Hemisphere practises. Dennis attempted, through his humorous poem, to paint a picture of an Outback Christmas, with families struggling with heat, and the hardships of rural life. The family in the poem share Christmas with a lonely neighbour, and enjoy his tales of Christmas in colder climes, which seem so far removed from what they have.
In this delightful picture book offering, illustrator Dee Huxley brings the classic poem to life with beautiful, whimsical pastel illustrations, capturing the humour of the tale and the rustic quality of the location.
This is a wonderful offering, combining a classic poem with the illustrative work of a popular contemporary illustrator and would make a great Christmas gift for any age.
A Bush Christmas, by C.J. Dennis, illustrated by Dee Huxley
Black Dog, 2008
First published in 1921, C. J. Dennis’ A Book for Kidswas dedicated to ‘good children over four and under eighty four’ and continues to offer much for children of all ages. This audiobook version, read by well known Aussie actor Colin Friels, brings the familiar stories and poems from this long-enjoyed book to life.
Including well known and loved verses such as Hist!, The Triantiwontigongolope and Our Cow as well as the familiar series of poems about various occupations including The Teacher, The Sailor and The Baker, kids and adults alike will laugh aloud, whether the poems are new to them or already familiar.
This would be a valuable addition to classroom collections, but will be equally enjoyed for private listening.
A Book for Kids, by C. J. Dennis, read by Colin Friels
ABC Audiobooks, 2006