I was very excited to have my poem (hopefully PB one day!) posted on the Australian Children's Poetry website. Davey the Dunnart from Kangaroo Island is book 2 in a trilogy of picture books/poems about endangered Australian animals. Book 1, 'A Birthday Jamboree', is about Gilbert's potoroo or ngilkat, a small nocturnal marsupial that can only be found in the wild on Mount Gardner headland in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve in Western Australia. Dunnarts or djamins, are marsupials and are much smaller than potoroos. Kangaroo Island dunnarts are classified as critically endangered due to the 2019/2020 bushfires which severely reduced the population.
Davey the Dunnart loved to play horn. He’d play every night from dusk until dawn.
Down by the creek he would jam with his band. Their sound became famous all over the land.
Roo played the bass, with possum on drums, Bandicoot swung on the harmonium.
Drongo would warble a sound warm and clear, Bat’s jazz guitar was smooth to the ear.
They’d come from the trees, from the Mallee and swamp, to jump and to jive, to swing and to stomp,
to dance through the night right up to the morn, all dazzled, delighted by Davey’s sweet horn.
Then one full moon night he didn’t appear. It seemed their friend Davey had just disappeared!
The animals searched all the places they knew - his burrow, the creek and the park rangers’ shoe.
But Davey was nowhere. He couldn’t be found. ‘Where can he be?’ his friends wondered and frowned.
As night turned to day a smell filled the air. The sky had turned black. A bushfire declared!
Thoughts of poor Davey were put to one side as everyone ran to find places to hide.
The heat was intense with many homes lost, and when it was over they counted the cost.
All hope had faded. Then later that night the sound of a horn was heard soft and light.
‘Could that be Davey?’ asked Roo in surprise. They ran to the creek and tears filled their eyes.
‘Davey!’ Bat cried as both friends embraced. ‘We thought you would never come back to this place.
We thought we would never again hear you play! We’re so glad to see you. So glad you’re okay.’
His heart filled with joy as the friends gathered near. Davey’s small smile now stretched ear to ear!
He hopped back on stage, picked up his horn and blew that sweet jazz from dusk until dawn.
Back Matter: Did you know?
For more information on the Kangaroo Island Dunnart visit these websites:
For teaching activities follow this link
Davey the Dunnart from Kangaroo Island © Kerry Gittins 2021. All Rights Reserved.
This picture book is loosely based on the story of a family friend who struggled with dementia later on in her life. The power of music, kindness, and friendship across the generations, are woven into the story.
Aimed at 4 - 8 year olds.
I was going to the park with mum when I first met Daisy. She was sitting on one of the wooden benches by herself, twisting her hands as if trying to remember something.
‘Hi. Have you lost something?’ I asked. She looked up and without replying, looked away. I thought perhaps she hadn’t heard me so I said, ‘Um. . . are you okay? You look sad.’
‘Do I know you?’ she asked softly. ‘I don’t think so. My name is Olive and this is my mum. We live in the house over there.’ ‘That’s nice’ she replied, looking to where I had pointed.
‘Do you live around here too?’ I asked. ‘I’m. . . I’m not sure,’ she frowned. ‘Do you know where I live? I’m trying so hard, but I can’t seem to remember’. Her face was a mixture of worry and hope.
‘I’m sorry, I don’t know. Maybe if you tell us your name?’ She turned away again. ‘I can’t remember my name either.’ A tear started to roll down her cheek.
‘I’m sure my mum and I can help. Why don’t you come home with us and we’ll try and find out for you?’ I looked up at Mum and she nodded her head saying, ‘Yes. Let’s see what we can do.’
I held out my hand and she placed her wrinkled palm in mine.
As we walked back home, I began singing in time to our footsteps. I love music. My grandpa loved music too and the song I sang was an old tune he used to sing to me when I was little.
♪ ‘Daisy, Daisy give me your answer do. I’m half-crazy all for the love of you.’ ♪
Mum and I looked in surprise as Daisy began to sing along. We were almost home when she stopped suddenly and said, ‘Daisy! That’s my name. Daisy Bullock! Now I remember!’ I grinned. ‘Very nice to meet you Daisy.’
Back home, Daisy told us she was having trouble remembering things but when I began singing, her memory started to come back.
Mum made us a cup of tea and Daisy remembered more and more. She remembered she lived on the other side of the park with her daughter. ‘Singing those old songs helped me a lot Olive.’ She patted my hand and smiled.
Mum and I drove Daisy home. Her daughter was so happy to see her and gave her the biggest hug. She explained how Daisy was having trouble remembering things lately. I said that was okay because everyone forgets sometimes.
Before we left, Daisy asked if I would come visit her again. I said I’d like that very much. Now, when we go to the park together, we sing all the old songs my grandpa taught me.
And Daisy remembers everything just fine.
Daisy. © Kerry Gittins 2020. All Rights Reserved.