Those of us of a certain age will most likely have grown up with the ballads of Andrew Barton Paterson. I was fortunate to share a love of the Banjo’s work with my father and would often perform his bush poetry as my ‘party piece’ for my parents’ friends.
Our younger readers may not be so familiar with the name but will most definitely know Waltzing Matilda and may even recognise The Man from Snowy River or Clancy of the Overflow. This wonderful and lively picture book will introduce the man behind the verse to a whole new generation.
Tania McCartney has a real gift for bringing the best of our Australian culture and icons to life for children and this book is further testament to her skill. Her delightful re-tracing of Banjo’s childhood and later life is told simply but engagingly. The recurring dialogue (in an effective use of speech bubbles) underline the early beginnings of Banjo’s writing successes as the boy who loved to rhyme grows to a multi-talented man.
With a clever twist Christina Booth has provided charming illustrations which show the young Barty with his family, dogs and friends in a contemporary backyard setting to which young readers will instantly relate.
At the close of the book factual information and images are provided in a delightful newspaper facsimile brilliantly alluding to one of Banjo’s many talents – his journalistic writing. Selections of his poetry are also included and thorough teaching notes are also available from the publisher’s website.
On this, the anniversary of his birth in 1864, what better to honour the man who has become the human representation of the Australian bush and its many colourful characters, than sharing his story with the next generation of readers?
Highly recommended for primary aged children, as well as adult aficionados of the Bard from the Bush.
Happy birthday A.B – I believe you would be thrilled with this special tribute to your amazing life.
Random House Australia
Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s
Extent: 32 pages
The picture book series of ‘Meet……’ has been extraordinarily successful in bringing the biographies of outstanding Australians to younger readers. Taking simple information and presenting it in a very accessible text accompanied by illustrations has opened up a whole new experience for younger students, giving them all a very clear picture of salient points about each subject’s life and times.
The latest offering in the series examines the life of arguably our most famous poet, A. B. Paterson better known to all as Banjo, beginning with his early life growing up in the countryside near Yass and through to his working in the ‘big city’ where his longing for the outback evidenced itself in his bush ballads.
Banjo’s acclaim as a bush poet was swift and universal – loved by both city dwellers and country folk alike. Lines from various poems are cleverly quoted to highlight certain events and occasions and Hancock’s illustrations in tones that reflect that landscape offer a visual exploration of others. Readers could certainly try to identify each poem from its given illustrative clue.
Of course, perhaps the most familiar composition for the intended readership is ‘Waltzing Matilda’ which receives its due attention and offers a wonderful opportunity to explore the vocabulary of this famous poem in detail. There is much in here to enrich a teaching program – comparisons of town/country life in Banjo’s time and in the present day, entertainments and hobbies of the past, landscapes and so much more. Here the provided teaching notes will be a terrific bonus.
As with previous titles in the series a double page spread at the end contains a time line of The Banjo’s life and given his involvement with WWI this could be a timely chance to introduce younger students to the man whose work is loved by so many generations of Australians.
Find teaching notes here.