Sunday, October 27, 2013

Phar Lap the wonder horse: the love of this story is passed on through the generations

I can't possibly let the 2013 Melbourne horse racing season pass without mention of our most famous race horse. Published in 2008, my take on the story, Phar Lap the wonder horse, is still attracting attention and selling well. 

My fascination with oral storytelling traditions led me to writing in verse. Ambivalent at first, as I had never tried my hand at rhyme, I read the introduction to Banjo Patterson's Old Bush Songs (1901) and was convinced that my version would be in ballad form – a genre that once flourished in Australia as a way of spreading the news. My instincts were rewarded when the Children's Book Council of Australia recognised Phar Lap as a Notable Book in 2009 

Here are BP's words that clinched my creative decision. You can read the full text on Gutenburg:

'Among the assisted immigrants and currency lads of the earlier days education was not a strong point; and such newspapers as there were could not be obtained by one-half of the population, and could not be read by a very large percentage of the other half. It is no wonder, then, that the making of ballads flourished in Australia just as it did in England, Scotland, and Ireland in the days before printing was in common use.'

Phar Lap the Wonder Horse is published by Museum Victoria and illustrated by Patricia Mullins.
If you would like a personal recitation: Listen

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