ERNIE DANCES TO THE DIDGERIDOO by Alison Lester

ERNIE DANCES TO THE DIDGERIDOO

by , illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8

KIRKUS REVIEW

Lester's lively, evocative artwork far outstrips her clunky narrative in this introduction to Australia's northern outback state of Arnhem Land. Young Ernie is off to Arnhem Land to live for a year with his parents. He has promised to write to his friends about the changing seasons. Lester has set the book up so that a two-page spread introduces each of the six seasons as Ernie relates it to his friends back home, with a half-dozen panels showing typical activities for that time of year. During Yekke, Ernie's friends collect bark and dig for yams; during Wurrkeng they weave pandanus and play tin-trucks, etc. Following these spreads are two-page kickers that describe one dramatic scene, such as a child being frightened by stilt dancers or a boy being told about the Creation Mother by his grandfather while sitting in a cave and looking at a petroglyph. But there is no attempt to weave the information into a satisfying narrative. "Ernie collects green plums with Old Daisy. Tammy digs up a long-necked turtle. Christine has her ears inspected." Plop. Plop. Plop. It is fortunate that the Aboriginal words are spellbinding enough—Dreamtime, Mimi stilt dancers, icypole—for kids to keep their interest through to the glossary at the end of the book. After all this impressive correspondence, Ernie's friends finally write back, asking, "We wonder what you are doing Ernie?" Since he’s done nothing but tell them what he’s been doing for six seasons, this comes across as either a bad joke or just plain weird. As a story, it's a great list. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-618-10442-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Walter Lorraine/Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2001




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