Lived the moodiest, mopeyest, saddest emu,
Just why he was sad well he didn’t quite know,
But he was, so the other birds called him ‘Emo’
My newest picture book is Emo the Emu (Nov 2015), published by Scholastic and illustrated by the supremely talented Lucia Masciullo, an Italian illustrator who has turned her eye to her adopted homeland for this project.
I thought of the idea for Emo when I was on tour with Alison Lester, almost as her warm up guy, doing speaking jobs to big groups of school kids on the north coast of New South Wales. I always loved Alison’s Are We There Yet, as well as Mem Fox’s Possum Magic, and I thought we were overdue a funny, rhyming ballad of a book that visits every State of Australia.
Emo complains about everything in the first part of the book.:
I hate eating weeds he would say to his father,
I hate eating seeds, grasses, mango and guava
I hate the green tree frogs, the frilly necked lizards,
I hate a wild dog from its nose to its gizzards …
I hate living here at the top of Australia,
I’m Emo the Emu, the world’s biggest failure!
But then he meets Katie the Kangaroo who suggests that he couldn’t possibly hate Australia, and asks whether he’s actually seen it.
So they embark upon a trip.
They journeyed to Sydney that city of lights,
That city that hums through the days and the nights
They sailed Sydney Harbour and boarded the ferry,
And Katy said, ‘Matey’ how extraordinary!’
Emo the Emu was hard to impress,
‘I s’pose it’s alright, yeah, it’s okay, I guess.’
Kids can guess which State will get which famous tourist landmark.
Will Emo cheer up?
Will they make it all the way around this great continent?
Will I win some sort of international poetry prize for rhyming ‘Angurugu’ with ‘kangaroo who’?
Emo the Emu is dedicated to my best friend, Chris Daffey, who died in December, 2013. Forever missed.
Emo began life as a poem, that was read at Airey’s Inlet Literary Festival. It is on my speeches site,