Tuesday 19 April 2016

The Mysteries of Corkuparipple Creek

The Mysteries of Corkuparipple Creek by Susan Pease, illustrated by Olivia Pease (Little Steps Publishing)
HB RRP $29.95
ISBN: 9781925117592

Reviewed by Anne Hamilton

This lavishly produced hardcover volume with gold-embossed cloth spine and ribbon page marker is a uniquely different offering in children’s books.


With sly overtones of Alice-in-Wonderland — is the first story in the book all a dream? — it mixes a significant environmental message with oodles of toilet and bum humour! It’s also got echoes of Narnia in that a great deal of time spent in one place is next-to-nothing back home.


There’s a dream-like wackiness to the characters — the Slurp-it-Downs and the Gulp-a-Waters are particularly memorable for their incessant throwing of insults and devotion to the art of the unsubtle putdown. These are races of strange critters who live on the banks of Corkuparipple Creek in the Aussie bush and who, in the best fairytale tradition, are only visible to selected folk.


Ten-year-old Jo encounters them one day while brainstorming a subject for an essay exam. One of the first things she sees is the Slurp-it-Downs and Gulp-a-Waters making snot glue — which later turns out to have healing, restorative properties (a chapter not to be read on a queasy stomach, to be sure!)


The book is divided into two separate but interconnected stories — Corkuparipple Creek and Worlds Apart. The second tale is largely set in Scotland and involves dark elves, time travel and (spoiler alert!) a bunyip who saves the day. It’s only in the second tale that it becomes likely the first story, which ended on the possibility that Jo’s initial adventures were all a dream, did really occur. There are some anachronisms in the book such as the use of ‘miles’, instead of ‘kilometres’.


Kids who love lots of references to things coming out of different body orifices will probably enjoy this huge volume with its full-colour illustrations throughout and its bright centrespread.

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