June 10, 2013
Lizzie Nonsense by Jan Ormerod
by Jan Ormerod
The little church where Mama and Papa got married is far away from their little house in the bush. In fact, town is so distant that when Papa has to go to there to sell a load of sandalwood, he is gone for weeks at a time. Fortunately, Lizzie has a great imagination to keep her occupied until Papa gets home.
Mama just calls it Lizzie nonsense. But Lizzie’s “nonsense” keeps her going as they haul water to water the garden and give baby a bath, Mama cleans the house and they do the mending. When Mama chases a snake out from under the rug, Lizzie declares that she is the bravest Mama in the whole world.
“Nonsense!” says Mama.
But Lizzie isn’t the only one with an imagination. On Sundays, she and Mama put on their very best clothes. With baby in the carriage, they walk the track and return home, pretending that they were able to go to church.
One morning the see a cloud of dust and hear the jangle of tack, it can only mean one thing. At long last, Papa has come home. They rush out to meet him before the whole family returns to their little house.
The story is fiction but with a lot of information about pioneer life in Australia. This would be a great book for young readers who have read about American wagon trains, little log cabins or dugouts. A wealth of information, such as the look of the house, their clothes and the local wildlife comes in through Ormerod’s watercolor paintings which depict Australia’s wilderness in a gentle glow. Page back through and look at the art work, picking out kookaburra and kangaroos, dingos and some little creature with a prehensile tail like an opossum.
A quiet, gentle book about bravery, imagination and family. Sadly, it seems to be out-of-print here in the US. Look for it in library collections or through used bookstores if you won’t want to order it from overseas. It is definitely a book you should have on your shelves.