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La mesaventure des petits kangaroos (The misadventures of the little kangaroos)

 La mésaventure des petits kanguroosThis beautiful and extremely rare wooden board book published in Paris in the 1920s has just been received by the Library. We are very fortunate as there is only one other known surviving copy in the world.

The book is comprised of six boards all of which have been finely illustrated and painted by hand with remarkable detail. The book is bound by a cloth spine that has been expertly restored and you can still make out where 2 leather tabs would once have been on the cover to lock it down. Considering the rarity of this book we are very lucky to have it in such good condition with only the tabs missing.

The story (written in French) tells of 2 young kangaroos who suffer a series of unfortunate events whilst on their way to visit their grandfather. The kangaroos are dressed in Parisian school uniforms one with a red beret. There is a devious monkey as the villain and a sense of Red Riding Hood about the story (particularly as the kangaroos are carrying baskets of food on the way to visit their grandfather). The mixing up of African and Australian animals within an imagined Australian setting which looks a lot like the south of France with gum trees only adds to the charm and interest of this little book.

This book is available in the Mitchell Library and is perhaps best enjoyed whilst listening to the Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals!

Alexander Sussman