Tuesday, August 3, 2010

3rd August Max Fatchen (1920) Julie Vivas (1947)

Australian poet, journalist and children's writer Max Fatchen is 90 today! Can we call him an Australian icon? He has been writing since he was given a typewriter at age 14 , and in a recent article in the Adelaide newspaper, The Advertiser it said, Max "is still hammering away on an old upright typewriter, turning out sweet-natured, reflective columns and whimsical poems and ditties from the sanctuary of his little study at Smithfield."

His poems make children laugh. He doesn't take life too seriously even when he has a message to impart. The children I teach love poems such as this one:

Dinosaur Department
Clever Clem went out of doors,
Playing with the dinosaurs,
Telling others in his class,
'Not to worry. They eat grass.'
A snap, a CRUNCH! The sad news breaks,
That clever boys can make mistakes.

Julie Vivas is as well-known in Australian children's literature as Max Fatchen, but for her illustrations in such well-known books as Possum Magic (and other titles by Mem Fox), Our Granny (and other titles by Margaret Wild), I Went Walking, Let's Eat! Nativity and Cuddle Time. The children recognise her illustrations immediately and always make connections with other books she has done. Every Australian toddler for the last 21 years has read and reread Sue Williams' I Went Walking and I Went Visiting and the images of her animals and people have become a part of their visual memory!

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