'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 3 December 2010

Review: A Bush Christmas

It’s always a good thing to exposure our children (and ourselves!) to classic Australian literature, and doing this via a stunning picture book is the perfect vehicle.

Back in CJ Dennis’ time, things were a little different at Christmas time. They weren’t white with snow (real nor from a can), nor brimming with holly bushes, nor permeated with the call of carolers, rugged up in their winter’s best.

No no. Christmases were plonked in the heat of the bush, in an old farm house baking under the hot sun, where Mum is cooking up a storm in the kitchen, hauling hot food from the oven under a sun hot enough to do the cooking for her… much to the amusement of Dad who “can’t get over women’s ways”.

And when old roving Rogan turns up on his loping horse at the farmhouse for some Christmas tucker, he is also amused by the feast… but of course, hardly complains as he sups his fill, then regales the family with tales of his boyhood back in England, on snow-covered farms, with yuletide logs and mistletoe.

The listening children are kept agog at his stories, unable to comprehend a Christmas blanketed in sleet… before Rogan gathers up his old grey mare and slinks off into the sunset, leaving dad and the kids and the pets snoozing on the carpet… while mum faces the washing up.

Sound familiar? Time and place may have altered many a modern day Christmas, but you don’t have to live on dry acres of land pockmarked by the hooves of horses and ringed in silver gums to relate to this enchanting Christmas scene.

Huxley’s remarkable illustrations, shimmering with colour and heat, perfectly embody the beauty and historical resonance of this book. Humorous, emotive and very Australian, this is a heartfelt visual festive feast of the very best kind.

Title: A Bush Christmas
Author: CJ Dennis
Illustrator: Dee Huxley
Publisher: Black Dog Books, A$24.99RRP
Publication Date: 2008
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781742030500
For ages: 6 – 12
Type: Picture Book

This book is available online