Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Blossom Possum and the Christmas Quacker

Blossom Possum and the Christmas Quacker by Gina Newton, illustrated by Christina Booth (Scholastic Press)
HB RRP $19.99
ISBN 978-1-74283-959-2
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Koala Claws has fallen asleep beneath the gum tree after his last stop on Christmas Eve and Blossom Possum cannot wake him. What will happen if he sleeps through Christmas? Can Blossom and her buddies save Bush Christmas?

Blossom Possum and the Christmas Quacker is a fun picture book filled with Australian animals who all have different suggestions about how to help Blossom Possum wake Koala Claws. The story does not always have an even rhythm, or pure rhyme. But the rhyme exists within the sentence structure; the rhythm is exposed as the story builds with lovely intermingling of rhyme, prose and repeated verse:

But Koala Claws wasn’t stirring,
he stayed sleeping like a log.
Stuck in the Land of Nod was he.
So who would do his job?

As the story develops and animal names are added, a wonderful tongue twister is created. Echo Gecko, Neville-the-Devil, Good Luck Wood Duck and many more – try saying them fast.

The language is very much Australian. They 'set off down the track, round the back of the beyond and go past the black stump'. And the story plays out in an Australian setting too. The soft watercolour illustrations bring the gum trees to life, making the landscape very much a part of the story. They show the procession of animals getting longer and longer, stretching across the page and emphasising the vastness of the country around them. Then on alternating pages, the pictures draw closer to very busy animals in a group.

I especially love the image of the animals on their way back, their silhouettes throwing purple shadows, as the trees on the distant hills do, emphasising the passing of time. This is echoed also at the end with Claws and his reinroos silhouetted in the sky as Santa Claus is often depicted at the end of Christmas stories.

This is a Christmas story with a difference, very Australian and, with its balance of repetition and action, and its humour, it should catch the imagination of preschool aged children.

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