I think I love the Bananas in Pyjamas Playtime Book (Katrina Van Gendt,  ABC Enterprises 1992) more than any book linked to a TV show deserves to be loved. Indeed I love this book much, much more than Bananas in Pyjamas on TV which I find irritating and puzzling. On the TV show, the bananas are twins and the teddies are somewhat incompetent adults (as far as I can work out).

These books, of which there are three (all out of print and expensive online, but turn up at the opshop) are charming. Playtime (Grace calls it the bajamas book) was a favourite finisher for pre-bed reading for ages, followed by singing the song. In these books the teddies are clearly toddlers and pre-schoolers, doing familiar ativities and the bananas are most definitely their carers. There are other carers, like beetroot man and zucchini in bikini but they're not on every page. I'm not exactly what role the bananas have here but it's way less stated than on TV. And I just love the final page where one of the teddies is asleep in a Banana's arms and another teddy is being carried upstairs by the other Banana. It's so tender and sweet. Grace often goes awww and presses her face to the page (quite a common reaction when she sees affection in books). The Bananas could be foster carers, or run a wildly fun childcare centre. Perhaps gay male parents. Or some other set up entirely. I love how open it all is.


This ilustration is from the page: On Friday they all played with water. We've been doing quite a lot of that here lately. Setting up the plastic shell under the clothes line, once it's shady. Normally at the end of the day after I've bought the washing in. Gee, I miss the sprinkler though and squirting the hose. And deep play pools. We fill ours with one bucket. And I'm sure even that's illegal.

Still, there's something very Australian about this picture. We don't have frangipani and banana palms much in Melbourne. Maybe it's set in Queensland? Grace always points to the Banana hanging his pyjamas on the line saying, and his clean socks too. Do you think he might be yelling at the teddys not to squirt water on his nice clean washing? Oh no, a banana wouldn't yell at a teddy. Even if it was really, really hot and he still had to do some housework while everyone else played in the pool. Hopefully he got to sit with his feet in the water for a while afterwards. Without a constant barrage of requests for drinks and other stuff each time he sat down.

Feck it's hot.


  1. That is the most bizarre concept for a children's book that I can imagine! But with pre-schoolers it does not seem to matter...and it does look rather idyllic.

  2. That does look very aussie. We had a pool the same as that when I was little. I was in the doctors waiting room today reading some picture books to my kids and found a brilliant washing line illustration, was so sad I didn't have my camera with me to take a photo, you'd have loved it!

  3. Found something else for you to check out!

  4. Oh that takes me back. That was our favourite book for such a long time! We loved to name the teddies, and then spent many a long, cuddly hour picking them out in the other pictures. Such a lovely, and yes, Australian book. And It also appeals to the young child's sense of order and routine.
    But, I coud never work out the beets. Beets in overalls? all the others had a rhyme! (zuccinis in bikinis a fav!)
    Thank you for your lovely blogs. They warm the heart!

  5. I suppose the writers came to the conclusion (can't you just imagine the team of writing staff debating it at the ABC?) that toddlers don't really understand how everyone is related so it would be boring to ram home a definitive truth (as well as excluding the imagination of various different families). They just know that they have Mum(s) and/or Dad(s), and other assorted peeps. To my son there really isn't any difference between "aunty" Josie who was my late sister's best mate, and Aunty Jacinta, who is married to my brother. They both turn up when there's a party on and bring presents. What more is there to know?
    They're also only really interested (in so far as they get interested) in how that person is related to Me (or the character they most identify with). Not so much in how adults are related to each other.
    My little sister had some Playschool books, but I'm not sure if it was that one or if I babysat someone who had that one. They were lovely though.