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

Monday 16 August 2021

Review: Clancy of the Overflow

Clancy of the Overflow, Banjo Paterson’s startling view of the Australian outback, has been brought to life in picture book form, for a new generation of younger readers to enjoy and learn from.

On the front endpaper, are award-winning Andrew McLean’s  visions of the bush in sunburnt colour. A bright ball high in the distance heats the already dry earth across the land. It churns beneath the horse’s hooves, as Clancy follows the two blue heelers that race before him.

On the title page lies an oval image of a bedroll, camp-ware and a drover’s hat. 

The letter was sent to Clancy and the response came, Clancy’s gone to Queensland droving, and we don’t know where he are.

The expressions of these men of limited education who lived off the land, reinforce their priorities – horses, dogs, sheep and cattle, droving and connecting with nature.

A string of stock being pushed ever-forward by dogs and drovers, spreads across the page.

Clancy rides behind them singing, for the drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

Clancy sings of freedom, the open air, the endless dusty miles, the songs of the bush echoing from rainbow lorikeets and breezes, through trees that bend over brooks.

Then at night, the horizon, open plains stretching to forever, and the wond’rous glory of the everlasting stars.

These are the things envied by city people, who are crushed into small spaces in gritty cities, with the growl of fighting cats and dogs in cobblestoned alleys covered overhead with washing, and below with fighting children and endless poverty.

And the longing, is to exchange places with Clancy and experience the change of seasons, but it’s something the townsfolk will never know.

The back endpapers show a double spread of the drovers cooking over their camp fire, dogs waiting for their portion, with the glory of glittering stars filtering through the branches of the majestic gum trees.

This wonderful poem lives again. With a salute to Andrew McLean for his stunning visual narrative, I return there beneath those gums, by that campfire.

Title: Clancy of the Overflow
Author: Banjo Paterson
Illustrator: Andrew McLean
Publisher: Scholastic, $24.99
Publication Date: 1 July 2021
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781760669232
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book