Monday 28 November 2011

Bruno Fiddlestein’s Dilemma, Mrs Papadopoulos’s Purple Hippopotamuses and Widow Hegarty’s Goat

Bruno Fiddlestein’s Dilemma, Mrs Papadopoulos’s Purple Hippopotamuses and Widow Hegarty’s Goat: collections of short stories by Vashti Farrer, illustrated by Naomi Kelly (Five Senses Education P/L)
PB RRP $12.95 each
Reviewed by Felicity Pulman

Vashti Farrer’s humorous and quirky short stories and poems have long been enjoyed by readers of NSW School Magazine, and her work will now reach a far wider audience with the publication of both old and new stories in these collections with subtitles: ‘stories to snortle at,’ ‘tall tales,’ and ‘unlikely escapades’. Readers will chortle over the antics of such things as a friendly emu called Ethel, a pair of naughty purple hippopotamus slippers, a pigeon with street smarts, the match-making goat of Widow Hegarty, and the garden gnomes who make themselves useful. They’ll also discover how Miss Muffet overcame her fear of spiders, and what happens when you play the violin to vegetables.

Of particular interest to my grandchildren were the fun stories about their favourite animals: cats and dogs that often got into trouble or had to save their owners. Some old favourites are also included in the collections: the stories of Lulubelle and Bones, Mr Pavlov’s Possum, and Green Piece’s Princess Euphorbia (ribbit!)

Alert readers will enjoy the puns. Imagine having classmates with names like Will Argue, Aidan Abbett, Wanda Round, Iona Broome and Luke Heare, and being taught by Miss Happ!

Naomi Kelly’s delightful drawings illustrate most of the stories and poems, adding an extra dimension of fun. Enjoy these wonderful collections, and remember:

‘Don’t maffle, cronk or chimble

When a bumblepuppy’s nigh,

It might clawscrunt up your mazzard

Nurk your goblocks on the sly.

It might knoup your knevel slister,

Sloom your snortle on the run,

Till you’re faffled, motched and gloppened

And it’s had its bit of fun.’

(c) Felicity Pulman, 2011

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