April marks the start of Aussie Author Month. It’s the brain child of my web guru, Nyssa and two of her fellow book lovers, Kat from Book Thingo and Ali and Rosie at Fangtastic It’s a pretty exciting thing to be involved in.
Both of my parents are avid readers, as children and I was lucky enough to be given most of their books – I’ve held first edition copies of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and The Hardy Brothers! Exciting for a book fanatic, but I digress!
Mum had a book called Bush Christmas – a 1940’s Australian classic! I can’t remember who wrote it and it lives in my childhood bedroom, so I can’t check. On googling it, however, I’ve found that it was made in a film:
In the beautiful Mara Mara valley, the three Thompson children – Helen (Helen Grieve), John (Morris Unicomb) and Snow (Nicky Yardley) and their English friend Michael (Michael Yardley) – are looking forward to the Christmas holidays. Riding their horses home after school breaks up, they find two strangers camped in the bush. Long Bill (Chips Rafferty) and his chubby mate Jim (John Fernside) are horse thieves, but the children innocently divulge details of their father’s valuable mare and foal. When these are stolen from their farm the next day, the four children and their friend Neza (Neza Saunders), son of an Aboriginal stockman, ride into the mountains to get the horses back.
After a few days they are lost and hungry. Neza teaches them to live off bush tucker, such as snakes and grubs, and Snow picks up the trail of the horse thieves, who are now joined by a third villain called Blue (Stan Tolhurst). The children recover the horses, then steal the men’s boots and blankets. Neza spears their water bag. The children walk into a trap in an old ghost town just as Mr Thompson (Pat Penny) and the local police catch up. The thieves are caught and the children return home for a much anticipated Christmas dinner.
I loved this book with a passion as I did Under Australian Skies by Phyllis M Power. Of course both these books were written well before the political correctness revolution, so there were aboriginals as servants and other archaic ideals. But mostly the children, that books were about, were firm friends with their aboriginal counterparts.
Even though most people would probably cringe at these books now, they were a true account of life in the 1940 and 50’s and they gave me a wonderful insight into an era that I otherwise may not have understood.
So these are just two of my favourites, although there are many more – Possum Magic, the Magic Pudding and The Billabong Series, just to name a few.
I wonder what yours were?