the sky is falling down under - iconically Australian

by Gina Newton, illustrated by Kilmeny Niland - Scholastic Australia, 2007
ages baby to 8 years / Australia, heartwarmers 

This is the story of Chicken Little who thought the sky was falling, retold with Australian animals and a definite Australian accent.

Blossom Possum is the first alarmist to believe the sky is falling and she decides to tell the Prime Minister. 

With lots of nods to Australian-isms such as ‘round the back of beyond’ and ‘past the black stump’, Blossom Possum gathers an oddball collection of Australian birds and animals who all join her journey. 

Danger arrives in the form of By-Jingo Dingo who tries to lure the appealing but gormless crew back to his lair by pretending he knows a secret passage to Parliament House. They are saved by I-Seen-You Emu!

Each character oozes personality and matches the attitude that their real life counterpart displays. Rocky Cocky is brazen and bold, Toey Joey looks a bit skittish and so on. When I was a child my grandparents lived in the outback and had a pet emu who terrified me – it’s stare was every bit as penetrating as I-Seen-You Emu’s and it was just as cunning.

I’m not so sure that Blossom Possum herself is as well represented!  She’s seriously cute – and Australian possums are cute – but she also looks innocent and soft.

We once rescued a possum that must have been hand raised before we found it nigh to death, because it searched out company. There she is:

The first night we put her in the boys room and she woke Peet at 3 in the morning, sitting on his pillow and licking his cheek. When Peet moved, she tried to crawl under the covers with him. 

Then we moved her into the girls room. The first night there, she woke Jesse by sitting on her chest. The next night she woke Louisa up by patting her on the cheek and jumped from her bed to Jesse's and back and tried to crawl under the covers. Eventually she crawled onto Jesse's bed and cuddled up to her legs and went to sleep.

By then we figured she was cured and we let her go on our property. 

So, after those antics, I’m not so sure I buy the innocent look on Blossum Possum’s face. (We saw her again some months later with a baby on her back :)). 

There’s lots of fun to be had with this book – it begs for broad Aussie accents in the reading and it has the same cautionary message about over-reacting as the original tale. 

It’s also a nice collection of Australian animals and could be used to talk about the uniqueness of Australia’s flora and fauna – which in turn can lead on to all sorts of scientific discussions about evolution, endangered animals etc.

You can buy Blossom Possum the Sky is Falling Down-under via these direct links: Book Depository - Booktopia