Birds are singing

I've come to really like this book, Crashing and Splashing by Alison Lester (Viking Kestrel, 1989). I think mum or G picked it up from the op shop a couple of months ago. When I'm in town, I often look for board books that might a)reflect Grace's life and b) have some literary and artistic merit. And it surprises me how many baby books are just plain ugly or have obvious grammatical errors.

This book is not of the style I would automatically go for, but it has grown on me. The text is simple and precise. I find the scenes from a slightly shambolic household, with an undeniably Australian aesthetic, quite endearing. We're not talking kangaroos and such here, but ordinary things like a dad and daughter kicking a football, a little one playing with the pots and pans, kids in the scrud in the back yard playing with the hose (what a pity water restrictions will rule that one out for Grace and her little mates) and a lovely backyard with a hydrangeas, snaking garden hose, kookaburras and a hills hoist with napppies on it.
I also really like that there are no pictures of the mother doing the housework. She's happily sitting on the phone talking while the kids and cat do their own thing nearby. It could just as easily been dad who put the washing on and hung it out. Maybe they even did it together.


  1. A&U sent me the box set of these after Frederique was born. They are gorgeous books. Like you at first I wasn't sure but they are like nursery classics or something, they just reread so well. Now all Alison Lester books are a hit here but especially The Journey Home and Clive Eats Alligators. Oh and My Farm. BEAUTIFUL book. They sent us that one for Una. Alison Lester traverses the landscape of childhood experience with so much insight.
    She lives down near Wilsons Prom somewhere I think.

  2. (I almost forgot the laundry theme. My Farm features a hills hoist - sans laundry, but the timeless cultural practice of swinging on the hills hoist (with a horsy twist). It is my noble ambition to live in a house with a hills hoist - I haven't had one in Melbourne, I don't think. Poor Fred and Una, will they never experience the simple elegant beauty of a hills hoist?)

  3. I've started looking for more Alison Lester board books, but so far have only found one of her other books (about a trip around Australia) which looked lovely, but was aimed at older children. I'm going to have to find a bookshop with a better range of kids books.
    I love our Hills hoist and look forward to the day when Grace can swing from it although I don't think G will approve of such antics. We went to a slightly hippy feral party a while back where kids were doing this (under adult supervision even) & I think he thought it was really dangerous. I thought it looked fun and remember doing it too as a kid, with the parents turning a bit of a blind eye.

  4. I love all of Alison Lester's books. Another author/illustrator who captures the domestic scene marvellously is Shirley Hughes. She's English, but her illustrations of messy houses and families are just charming.

  5. Ditto fan of Alison Lester and Shirley Hughes (whose 'Dogger; is just beautiful).

  6. As you can tell, I'm browsing all your blogs today and having such fun!
    I need to chime in on the Alison Lester 'My Farm' recommendation. Also 'Magic Beach' which is about the beach down at Walkerville (near the Prom like a previous comment said).
    Another book full of glorious homey details including lots of clothes horses in front of the fire (to link in with the fact that this is your laundry blog I'm commenting on), is the book 'Peek a Boo' by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. The book is English and shows the progression of a day in a 1940s London house, as seen through the eyes of the baby of the family. It makes my mum, who was a London child evacuee during WWII, cry every time. The illustrations are exquisite. Lots of flowery teapots, nana taking the kids to the park to catch tadpoles in glass jars while the exhausted mother naps by the fire, etc. Can't recommend it highly enough.