We all know of The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s liking for food and the foods on the menu of his first feast, but what would be on the table if he came to an Australian feast? Particularly one designed for a picnic on the beach?
Very young Australian fans of the VHC will delight in this exclusive release written just for them as they lift the flaps on iconic treats searching for their little hero. Interactive, a familiar character, vivid illustrations in Carle’s recognisable style and rhyming text make this a terrific addition to this collection as young readers discover another adventure. Is their favourite food mentioned? What would be in their beach picnic basket? (And who’s the ladybird? Could that be another story from the master storyteller?)
From his lofty watch post, Possum is drawn to the sight of a distant tree covered in sparkling trinkets. A Christmas Tree, according to Kookaburra. So begins a quest in which Possum and his crafty crew of helpers try very hard to decorate their very own Christmas gum tree from Bowerbird’s treasure trove. But it’s not as easy as you might think.
There is something about Christmas books that celebrate the Australian experience that make them stay in my mind moreso than any of the other classics. Over all the years that I have done a Christmas Countdown both with my class and my family, and in more recent times, on this blog, there are a handful that truly encapsulate what it is to have Christmas in this country, and this new offering is now one of those.
While we know that many of our Christmas traditions have their origins in northern hemisphere customs were brought here by those earliest European settlers so they could still feel the connection to their own origins, (and the concept of a Christmas tree stretches back to pagan times) and continue to be perpetuated slowly, slowly we are building a set of uniquely Australian customs and this story is an important contributor to that. How much family fun could there be in doing what the animals did and decorate a branch of a gum tree with things found in nature? May be easier to say than do for those in the city, but for those who can take a drive in the bush there are plenty of fallen branches to gather and keen eyes will soon find a store of decorations as rich as any bowerbird’s collection.
Hosking’s rhyming text is superbly supported by Eckstrom’s illustrations which capture our unique flora and fauna in a fun-filled way that befits the joy of working together to create a spectacular centrepiece. Young readers will delight in identifying those they recognise and meeting those they don’t but for me, the essence of this book, is the co-operation and collaboration. A couple of years ago when S & S came they were disappointed that my usual masterpiece wasn’t waiting for them (but to be fair I’d had a heart attack and was recovering from heart surgery) but this year a new activity will be born. Grandad can find a suitable branch from the thousands on our bush block and we will all spend a couple of hours using what we can find to make it our own. Maybe in years to come that will be the norm in the family and the tree will have so much more meaning for coming generations. .