Tuesday, October 6, 2015

One dragon's dream

What to give a new grandchild?

New copies of books his father liked was my decision.

One dragon had a dream
That two turkeys teased him,
Three tigers told him off
And four frogs seized him.
Five cranky kangaroos hopped around and fenced him in
Six stern storks tried him and sentenced him
Seven slippery seals off to jail they juggled him
Eight great elephants in balloons they smuggled him
Nine nimble numbats sewed him up with three
Then a team of ten turtles towed him home to bed.

The entire text of ' One Dragon's Dream', by Peter Pavey

Even almost thirty years later, I can still recite the whole text, though for some reasons seals have been changed to 'sea lions'.

The illustrations are baroque in their detail, and, as a counting book, you have to search for a number of objects that accord with the number of animals. This becomes delightfully complicated. Where is that last platypus? Or button.

This Australian book is subtly Australian in its content. Certainly, there are kangaroos and numbats, but there are also tigers and storks, and a dragon.

I think most book creators insert personal references for their own entertainment. In this case, on the page with three tigers, there are three signposts pointing to Kooweerup, Mount Eccles, and another place in Victoria whose name I can't remember, as I am writing this without the book to hand, sitting in the shade in a park in Blackheath, with the smell of spring blossom all around.

Peter Pavey, the author information tells us, is now a walnut farmer in Victoria. I think it perfectly reasonable that after writing one brilliant book, and another one or two, one should retire and do something else entirely.

Also for the as yet unnamed little boy:

Each Peach Pear Plum, By Janet and and Alan Ahlberg, which is a favourite of his cousin Ellie

The elephant and the Bad baby, by Elfrida Vipont, with illustrations by Raymond Briggs

Mr Gumpy's Outing, by John Burningham

And for Ellie, just because it it nice to send a new book, The Terrible Plop, by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Andrew Joyner.