Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Magic Pudding - Norman Lindsay

I hadn't heard of Australian author Norman Lindsay's The Magic Pudding until it was mentioned in Philip Pullman's list of books included in the What Children Should Read suggestions that were offered early last year. However, I was suitably intrigued by Philip's passion for it to keep my eyes open for a copy and I managed to pick up the library's copy of the New York Review of Books Children's Collection edition (shown here).

The story features a walking, talking pudding that enjoys being eaten and never runs out - and if you whistle twice and turn it around it changes to a different flavour - from steak and kidney to apple dumpling or hot jam role. The pudding is owned by three companions, Bill Barnacle (a sailor), Bunyip Bluegum (a koala), and Sam Sawnoff (a penguin) who engage in various adventures, all the while happily eating the "Puddin'", but occasionally they're forced to defend their property from two impudent pudding thieves. The book is divided into four "slices", rather than chapters. The pudding was created by the cook on board Bill and Sam's merchant ship after it had sunk and they were starving on an iceberg, except for the amusingly-named cook, "Curry and Rice". When Bill and Sam learn of the existence of the pudding, they apparently push the cook into the sea, then forgot about it, so they won't appear vicious.

Bunyip leaves home because he's fed up with his Uncle Wattleberry's whiskers always getting in his soup - and he soon meets up with Bill and Sam, and sets off on their wild and wacky adventures across Australia.

This book is genuinely funny for adults as well as children. The line illustrations (by Lindsay) are magical (and I'm not a huge fan of illustrated books!) and there are some raucous and ridiculous rhymes interspersed throughout the narrative. If you haven't read it yet, I recommend that you grab a copy and have some fun. The Magic Pudding is also available from

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