Tadpoles in the Torrens - South Australian Children's Poetry

Tadpoles in the Torrens: Poems for young readers - Jude Aquilina

With 25 different writers and a total of almost 70 poems inside, this slim little book has at least one poem for everyone. Some are profound and serious musings--others, like "Amos and his noses" are obviously just there to entertain.  (Poor Amos grows multiple extra noses, sneezes them away, and ends up with an extra eye in their place.) 


Although not all the poems depend on end rhyme (the rhyming of the last words such as in "...splidgee and icky / ....and picking it up can be tricky" from Christine Harris' poem "Jelly") the poems I ended up not liking were generally due to issues with that.  Too many slant rhymes (near rhymes) or jarring spots where the rhyming pattern suddenly stopped shifted on me.  Was it just how they were written or perhaps related to the accent which I read in?  Who knows.  (I should note that I quite enjoyed Christine Harris' poems in the book--they start about 1/3 of the way into the book.)  


Many of the poems are quite obviously Australian, overtly or subtly featuring Aussie vocabulary, animals, and cultural themes. For example, that "Jelly" poem I quoted from a moment ago isn't referring to the stuff that goes on your PB&J sandwich.  It's talking about jello.  There's a poem about Ozzie the Mozzie that's accompanied by an entirely too innocent looking mosquito. Kangaroos and koalas don't merit many mentions (if any) but possums and cockatoos do.  A poem by Max Fatchen muses about a brother who is a motorbike freak: "...He gets action, Satisfaction, But mostly, He gets bruises."  Another poem about a grandfather by John Malone connects to the multi-generational surfing culture that permeates the Australian coastlines.


Some of the poems feature "kid" humor about topics like animal poop and snot.  Some of the poems have an air of naughtiness to them--like "Me at three" which ends with the unexpected musing of a boy about his mother, "I wonder how long it will take her to learn  / Not to go trusting me." Some of the poems are riddles with the answers printed upside down at the bottom.


Not every page is illustrated, but every few pages there is either a thumbprint tadpole illustration or a black/white/gray illustration.  In an unusual illustration strategy, the illustrations are licensed from Shutterstock, but they were adapted by Liz Nicholson so the result is coordinated, whimsical, fun, and, usually, a blend of Picasso mixed with Aztec.