||Bubenberg Audio & Book
Lancelot is an orphaned joey growing up on a farm. One day he comes across a kangaroo mob and wants to join it. He escapes from home and injures his arm so badly that it has to be amputated. Left alone in the bush he has to overcome dangerous situations. He is lucky that a girl kangaroo from the mob is curious to find out who Lancelot is and wants to help him.
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Bubenberg Audio & Book
A brave Knight
It was winter in Australia. The beaches in the south of the continent were empty. Further inland, where gentle hills and rolling meadows dominated the landscape, an icy cold wind blew. The sky was grey. Heavy clouds rolled down upon the meadows, almost touching the tip of the grasses. A kangaroo was tangled up in a barbed wire fence, separating the paddock from the forest. It had been trapped in there for several days, its eyes closed as if it was asleep. To its feet, a baby kangaroo - or joey - lay curled up in the wet grass. The joey was freezing and very, very hungry.
“Hungry,” it whined, the wind carrying away its cry for help before anyone could hear it.
In the distance, a car pulled up. Its shiny bonnet together with the blinding headlights looked like the face of a greedy monster. The joey was scared, trying to hide in its mother’s pouch.
“Mummy,” it cried, stretching its little arms. The mother would not hear it. The Joey could not reach her pouch without her help. It ran off instead. It dashed through the wet grass but tumbled over its own legs and fell on its nose. Two giant hands picked it up. A voice said:
“Don’t be afraid. I will not do you any harm.”
The Joey looked up and saw a strange face. A mouth so flat, it was impossible to imagine that it could suck a teat. A nose so small, there was no way it could sniff a mother’s warm pouch. And the ears were not on the head they were stuck on either side. How terrible, thought the joey, not knowing that this was the face of a human being.
“I am the farmer,” said the human being. “I am the owner of the paddock. Don’t be afraid, poor thing. I’ll take you home. My house is warm and my wife will give you a bottle of warm milk.”
The farmer put the joey on the back seat of his car. Wrapped it up in a woollen blanket and drove off. The Joey was unable to move, could not kick its legs or wiggle its arms. Helpless, it glanced through the rear window, looking for its mother who became smaller and smaller the further they drove.
“Mummy,” it cried, “Wake up.”
“Don’t worry,” said the farmer, patting the joey’s head.
The blanket felt soft and warm. Soon the joey closed its eyes and fell asleep. It dreamed of curling up in its mother’s snugly pouch.
As the joey woke up it was sure it had latched on to its mother’s teat. It started to suck. But there was an unfamiliar taste. And no milk was flowing. It opened its eyes and was stunned to see another strange looking creature, the farmer’s wife.
“It believes my finger is a teat,” said the farmer’s wife.
“That’s good,” said the farmer. “It means the little bugger is hungry.”
“I prepared some warm milk for you,” said the farmer’s wife to the joey. “Be a good boy and drink.” She put the bottle in its mouth. The milk tasted good. The joey was so hungry; it forgot to be scared of the farmer’s wife. Still, it kept an eye on her, wondering if it could trust her, while it greedily sucked the bottle.
“We should give it a name,” said the farmer’s wife.
“How about Lancelot?” suggested the farmer. “Lancelot was a noble and brave knight. And this little bugger is very brave.”
“Sounds wonderful,” said the farmer’s wife, smiling. “From now on your name shall be Lancelot.”
“Lancelot?” Lancelot asked himself. “Why are the saying Lancelot all the time. It must be the stuff I’m drinking.”
The milk was delicious. Warming his stomach, appeasing his hunger.
“Yummy! Lancelot tastes yummy,” said Lancelot to himself and scratched his tummy. “I could drink another bottle of Lancelot. Right now.”
The farmer’s wife put Lancelot in a pouch she had made, using an old blanket. She hooked it on the wall behind the wood heater. The warmth crawled slowly and steadily into Lancelot’s body. He felt safe. He curled up, his mind at ease.
It was spring. The days had become warmer and Lancelot grew into a handsome kangaroo. He had forgotten the incident at the fence and also forgotten his mother. Nothing was clearer to him than the fact that the farmer’s wife was his mother. Her name was Emmy. Of course the farmer was his father. His name was Bill. Lancelot had grown out of the woolen pouch. He was big and brave enough to sleep in the laundry on a bail of straw. Like any other kangaroo he slept in the afternoon and stayed up all night. He had also learned how to eat on his own and did so mainly at night. He loved apples, pear, apricots and even melon which Emmy sometimes gave him when she felt like spoiling him. But first of all he ate grass, like any other kangaroo. There was an abundance of grass on the farm. In the garden around the house, and in the horse paddock.
Sometimes, Lancelot was full of mischief. He did naughty things like eating the leaves from the rosebush, growing under the kitchen window.
“How can it possibly grow if you chew up all its leaves?” Emmy told him off, after she had caught him red-handed.
And sometimes he sneaked up to a horse from behind, to give it a fright:
The horse trembled. “You little devil. Don’t you dare to give me such a fright.”
“Let’s play,” Lancelot demanded.
“I am in no mood to be childish,” the horse said.
“Grumpy-head. You are a grumpy-head.”
“Play with me. Play with me.”
Alarmed by the bickering, the other horses in the paddock came running at a gallop and formed a circle around Lancelot.
“What’s wrong with you?” Lancelot asked. Now he was scared. “Aren’t we supposed to be friends?”
“Not when you give us a fright,” said the brown horse.
“We horses are sensitive creatures,” said the black one.
Neighing they bared their enormous, yellow teeth. Lancelot cringed, jumped between their legs and hopped away as fast as he could.
Lancelot was hiding behind the stable which in fact was a tin shed. Bill had moved it from the garden into the paddock. He made the floor soft, scattering some straw over it, and put a bucket of water in the corner. From that day on it served as a simple but comfy bedroom for the only sheep on the farm. Once Lancelot was sure the horses could not see him anymore he left his hide-out, and asked the sheep:
“How come your name is Meryl Sheep?”
Meryl Sheep was not in a hurry. Hardly anything could upset her. In her long life she gained a lot of experience and a bit of wisdom too. Wisdom had taught her not to rush in life and to take it easy. She snatched a few blades of grass, chewing them calmly until she finally lifted her head. Very, very slowly.
“Well,” she said, while munching the grass, “Bill named me after a very famous movie star. He says my wool is as white as her hair and my bleating as soft as her spoken words.”
“Who is she?”
“Alas! You wouldn’t know her. You’re too young. But tell me why your name is Lancelot?”
“I am as brave as the Knight Lancelot.”
“I wouldn’t say so. Your trick on the horse was not particularly brave. It actually was quite stupid.”
“It was funny.”
“Not in the horse’s eye. Horses are shy. They don’t like it when you sneak up on them. Especially from behind. They kick you with their hoofs when they get a fright. I’d rather not know what could happen to you if you get kicked by one.”
“Don’t worry. Nothing will happen to me. Why aren’t you coming with me? Let’s go to the horse paddock. We could all play together. It’ll be fun.”
Meryl Sheep set her eyes on the horse paddock and sighed:
“I wish I were as free as you.”
“Why are you kept in here?”
“I was not always in this little paddock of mine. Once upon a time, when I was a little lamb, I was allowed to spend all day all around the garden. Even in the vegetable patch. However, one day I discovered a very special bush under the kitchen window.”
“The rosebush,” Lancelot interrupted her.
“Yes. The rosebush. How I love its leaves and petals. They are delicious. Simply divine.“
“Did Emmy catch you red-handed?”
“She was furious, and Bill erected the fence on the very same day. Well, since then they keep me in here. Every day. Day in, day out. That’s life. Anyway I would give anything for just one last go at the rosebush. My whole wool for just one teeny weensy bit of leaf.”
“I hate the rosebush. It tastes horrible,” Lancelot said, and, disgusted, spat on the ground.
“You are a bad liar,” Meryl Sheep said. “I can read it in your face that you desire the rosebush just as much as I do.”
“I’m not eating any of it anymore. Emmy said I am not allowed to.”
“That’s life. You can’t have what you long for. At least you are able to eat juicy grass in the horse paddock.”
“The grass in your paddock is just as yummy. No, that’s not true, it actually tastes much better.”
“You are a nice fellow,” Meryl Sheep said, followed by a deep sigh. “But you don’t need to pretend. I know what I see. I see the creek streaming down the horse paddock. It keeps the soil around it soft and moist. And what grows on moist soil? Delicious, juicy, fat grass.”
“How do you know all that?” Lancelot asked, astonished.
“I studied it for a long time. After all, the horse paddock is right under my nose, every single day. Now, look at my paddock. Why do you think the grass is not green but brown?”
Lancelot shrugged his shoulders.
“Because there is no creek. Therefore no water. My paddock only turns green after a long, good rain. And rain we have not had that for an eternity. That’s a very long time.”
“I’ll pick some grass for you,” Lancelot said and jumped the fence, into the horse paddock. He collected as much grass as his little paws could hold. He wished he had a pouch to fill up with mountains of grass. However, only female kangaroos have a pouch. Males do not. And Lancelot was a male.
Meryl Sheep was excited. For once she did not dawdle and instantly took a bite of the bundle of grass Lancelot had picked for her. She closed her eyes and chewed and chewed. In between she said: “Yum. I knew it. It tastes so good it nearly blows my mind.“ “From today onwards I will pick some grass every day. Just for you,” Lancelot promised. Satisfied, he stretched his arms and legs, yawned and lay on the ground, in front of Meryl Sheep. He watched her chewing. Her lower jaw quietly moved from one side to the other, making a crunching sound, evenly and lulling.
“Crunch . . . crunch . . . crunch!“
It sounded like a clock, marking the seconds.
“Tic . . . tic . . . tic!“
The only difference being that he would hear a crunch.
“Crunch . . . crunch . . . crunch!”
With every sound Lancelot’s eyelids became heavier and heavier. He was tired. He closed his eyes, drifting slowly between sleep and waking. The crunching sound faded, seemed to come from far away, and faster than lightning would flash, Lancelot fell asleep. He dreamed of curling up in a pouch, hearing a constant but strange sound.
“Tic . . . crunch . . . tic . . . crunch . . . tic!”
It went right into his heart, making him feel safe. Contended, he turned around and clicked his tongue. This was the end of his dream.
Help for every parent
This is the first CD book that I have reviewed. Lancelot is orphaned when his mother is killed in an accident. He is rescued and cared for by a farmer and his wife but later wants to join the mob of kangaroos he has seen. After a freak accident with a horse, one of his arms is amputated and he sets off to find the kangaroo mob. A female kangaroo, Rosebush, befriends Lancelot showing him how he can cope with just one arm. The leader of the mob however, will not accept him. Drought brings dangers but also the chance to prove that Lancelot is worthy of a place in the mob.
The story is really one about the importance of friendship and about encouraging positive attitudes to injury and disability.
Any wild animal that has been reared in captivity must be carefully prepared for release into the wild and this does not happen in the story. Most animals with a disability such as a missing limb will have to remain in care for life. This aspect of the story can be discussed by teachers and classes in primary school and also by parents and their children.
I can imagine this story being enjoyed by families travelling on long distances in the car. There are plenty of pauses when the CD could be turned off and resumed later. It will particularly appeal to children from 8 to 10. The voices used are clear and the music and other sound effects add to the enjoyment of the story.
Lancelot is a little Joey whose mother has died. He is adopted by Bill and Emmy, the farmer and his wife, and he doesn’t even know that he is a kangaroo. What he does know is that Meryl Sheep is a friendly sheep and that he’s able, unlike Meryl, to hop over the neighbour’s fence to get Meryl some fresh green grass. The neighbour isn’t a nice human like Bill and Emmy though, and when he complains, shotgun in hand, about kangaroos to Bill and Emmy, Lancelot finds out that he’s a kangaroo too, and an adopted one at that. His journey as he finds out what it means to be a kangaroo, and indeed, what it means to be a decent animal, no matter what your species, forms the plot that drives the narrative along.
Children of all ages will enjoy this tale, which is well crafted and full of suspense and drama. Lancelot is a richly drawn character, whose transformation is powerful. He loses his arm during the course of the story, and is frightened, humbled, and hurt, but he also gains wisdom, courage, and deep understanding. Meryl Sheep is funny and wise, but she also has her moments of weakness, especially where rosebushes are concerned. Other characters like Bill and Emmy, the nasty neighbour, Rosebud the young female kangaroo, and her big gruff uncle will stay with your children, and they will want, as indeed mine did, to listen to this CD again and again. At nearly two and a half hours, it’s a long CD, but there are chapters and breaks so your children can listen in brief episodes, before bed or in quiet moments during the day. This is also excellent for long car rides, with the story engrossing enough to keep everyone (adults too), quiet and engaged. The story is narrated by David Tredinnick, and he does it with true Aussie character and style, which isn’t surprising, since he’s narrated over 50 talking books! Anne Phelan is also a standout as Meryl Sheep (never mind the other Meryl), playing the part with an equal blend of motherly care and sheepish need. Matthew Whittet does a terrific job with Lancelot too, making a nice transition from naivety to insecurity self-awareness to courageous and self-assuredness.
All in all this is a professional and nicely presented audio book which is richer and deeper than most audios for children, but what really makes it special is that it presents a wonderful message. There are many themes running through the book such as adoption and what it means to be an adoptee, while still staying attached to your roots, about disability, about courage, friendship, and care. Lancelot is a great role model, and the story is evocative without ever becoming overly sentimental or syrupy. This is a story you can really feel good about letting your children listen too, and you might also find yourself engrossed too.”
Magdalena Ball (The Compulsive Reader)
Children's Book Council of Australia
If you have a soft spot for Australia’s iconic animals and you want some audio discs that will keep your small tyros quiet for a few hours in the car, or perhaps in bed on a wintry evening, then this is the thing for you. I believe that children can never have too many stories told to them. It is also a pleasure to hear Australian accents telling stories.
Anne Phelan’s voice is rich and expressive, and in fact the whole cast is excellent, as is the quality of the recording. The sound effects and the pace of telling are superb; and there are witty touches for the adults, such as the wise sheep, ‘Meryl Sheep’. Lancelot, an orphaned kangaroo adopted by a farmer and his wife, is the constant figure across these stories. He is also disabled, after losing one of his arms in an accident.
Lots of opportunities for adventures and lessons here. His quest is to discover his kangaroo-ness and find love and acceptance among his fellow creatures. The plight of the kangaroos in an exhausted, drought affected landscape in a country where they can be shot on sight are issues that must be faced. Recommended for pre-readers and early readers still entranced by being told stories. 3 to 5 years old. KB
The journal of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA)
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