Mar 172020

Being the Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum

And His Friends Bill Barnacle and Sam Sawnoff

‘The magic Pudding’, seriously a classic and magical story piece of 1918 Australian Literature. This Australian Children’s story was written and illustrated by a renowned writer and artist, Norman Lindsay. And this classic piece of 1918 story is one of the funniest children’s book ever. Though it is a book for children’s, the story is enjoyed by the child in all of us. Excited to know about this classic piece!! Well, I am more excited to tell you guys about Norman Lindsay’s ‘The Magic Pudding’. Let us begin with the same enthusiasm.

The Magic Pudding: Being The Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum and his friends Bill Barnacle and Sam Sawnoff is basically a comic fantasy backdrop story that takes place in Australia. The basic story line tells, ‘three humans mixing with anthropomorphic animals, who owns a “Magical Pudding.” Magical!!? Yes, it is a magical pudding, which always reforms, no matter how often it is eaten and will be ready to eat again. The three companions who owned the magical pudding must defend it against the ‘Pudding Thieves’ who are in a master plan to own for themselves’.

I think after learning about the story line, you all agree to my introduction statements given to ‘The Magic Pudding’ stating that it is such a kind of story which the child in all of us enjoys.

The Magic Pudding—Norman Lindsay

It is Slices…not Chapters anymore….

As the title and story is all about ‘The Magic Pudding’, it is so natural to call chapters as ‘slices’. Yes, the story is divided into four slices instead of four chapters. And you can see a lot of short and small songs interspersed in the story throughout the text. The interspersed songs vary from fun rhymes used to describe a character’s mood and behaviour to how they are performing the act to verses of an ongoing sea song, popping up so often throughout the story.

Characters in the Story,’ The Magic Pudding’

Albert: Albert is the Magic Pudding

Bunyip Bluegum: An accomplished young koala

Bill Barnacle: A sailor

Sam Sawnoff: A penguin is a shipmate of Bill Barnacle

Benjamin Brandysnap: Benjamin Brandysnap is an elderly dog

Wattleberry: Wattleberry is the uncle of Bunyip Bluegum

Patrick: a possum is one of the pudding thieves

Watkin: a wombat is one of the pudding thieves

Henrietta Hedgehog


Norman Lindsay, a well-known Australian writer and artist illustrated a classic piece of children’s story book himself with a lot of white and black drawings. He himself designed the cover and still the original sketches are available at the State Library of New South Wales.

Louis Lawmen designed a Magic Pudding sculpture based on Norman Lindsay’s illustrations, which later became the centrepiece of the Ian Potter Children’s Garden in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.

Plot Summary

Bunyip Bluegum, a young koala plans for world travels using his walking stick. He sets out on his travels because he was upset to live with his uncle anymore. During lunch time, he meets Sam Sawnoff the penguin and Bill Barnacle the sailor while feeling cranky from being slightly peckish. His two friends are having the pudding, which always reforms very often soon after it is eaten. This magical pudding is named as Albert and characterised as thin arms and legs, ill-mannered so-and-so into the bargain, and bad tempered but the magic of reforming after being eaten is the only pleasure enjoyed by the magical pudding.

Sam and Bill invited hungry Bunyip for lunch and after lunch they went on road together. While walking, Bill and Sam told Bunyip about how they have got this magical pudding. Bill said, “he and Sam were once on a ship, where the ship’s cook created this magical pudding, which later owned by them.”

Learning about the magical nature of pudding, the two pudding thieves, Possum (Patrick) and Wombat (Watkin) tried many times to steal the pudding. But Sam and Bill defended bravely to save pudding, Albert. On the same night Sam and Bill then have a meeting to discuss and feels grateful regarding their efforts and contributions in order to save Albert. They even invited Bunyip to join their meeting and also offered him to become a member of the Noble Society of Pudding Owners.

The next day, the Pudding Thieves successfully grabbed the Pudding with their well-thought-out tricks. Outraged and badly disappointed Bill and Sam went into self-hatred and despair. Bunyip is the one who brings some enthusiasm in them to set off a rescue plan in order to get back the pudding from Pudding Thieves. In the process of rescuing the pudding from the Pudding Thieves, the three companions encounter with unsavoury and pathetic members of society. At last, the Pudding Thieves got impressed by the smartness of Bunyip, which lures the Thieves to come into the trap of rescuing the pudding plan. Finally, the three companions rescues and retries their pudding.

Later, after some time the Pudding Thieves again approaches the three companions to grab the pudding with their master plan in their brains. They approach the three friends showing a friendly nature like carrying some gifts for good will and in this process, they asks the three friends to look into a bag, which they already carrying with them. While doing so, the thieves pull the heads of the pudding owners into the bag, leaving them defenceless. Immediately the thieves grab the pudding and runs off.

Then an elderly dog, market gardener Benjamin Brandysnap, rescues the three companions and frees them off the bags. The dog realises that the bag was stolen from his stable and also decides to take revenge by joining the Pudding Owners. Same like the first rescue plan made by Bunyip, another rescue plan was planned by Bunyip to attract and trap the pudding thieves. As planned, the pudding was retrieved after successfully executing the Bunyip’s smart rescue plan.

Next day, when the three travellers has arrived the sleepy town of Tooraloo, they got to meet some men dressed up in descent suits, top hats, and especially claiming that they are the real pudding owners. Later they turned up to the pudding thieves and eventually a fight had happened between the Mayor and the local constable. The bad tempered Pudding pinches the Mayor, who orders to arrest Pudding.

The Pudding was taken to the court, where the officials, the Judge and the Usher were playing cards and not at all interested to concentrate to hear the case. So, Bunyip decides to hear the case themselves. Bill becomes the Prosecutor and presses charge on the Pudding Thieves for stealing the pudding, stealing Benjamin Brandysnap’s bag, and causing fight between the Mayor and Constable. But the proceedings didn’t go well resulting in many chaos. Meanwhile Bunyip announces that the pudding has been poisoned. The judge who is been eating the pudding suddenly goes crazy and started hurting the Pudding Thieves, the Mayor and Constable, the usher using a bottle of port.

But in reality, the Pudding was not poisoned and the Pudding owners played a prank to create confusion to beat a hasty retreat. Finally, the travellers decide to settle down somewhere with the Pudding instead of travelling. Soon after they built a beautiful house at Benjamin Brandysnap’s garden and settled down there to lead a life of ease.

Few Facts about ‘The Magic Pudding’

1) The Magic Pudding is first published in 1918, very soon became the most popular children’s story book and continued to be reprinted over the years.

2) The Magic Pudding has gained a prestigious honor from Australia Post i.e. Australia Post dispensed a postal stamp representing an illustration from the story book. It was a part of a set of five commemorating Children’s Books.

3) In 2000, a feature film was released with the title, ‘The Magic Pudding’. This film was an Australian animated musical adventure comedy film directed by Karl Zwicky. The story was loosely based on the story of The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay. The film released with an ensemble cast of well-known voice actors including Jack Thompson, John Cleese, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neil, Hugo Weaving, and John Laws. But the film failed financially at the box office because of its poor quality of animations and the story dint stick to the originality of the true story.

4) In 2008, the book edition completed its 90th anniversary.


1) Victorian Opera in 2013, presented the ‘The Magic Pudding- -The Opera’, music was given by Calvin Bowman whereas the libretto was adapted from Lindsay’s book by Anna Goldsworthy.

2) In 2010, you can find another adaptation of Lindsay’s script presented by Marian Street Theatre for Young People, based in Killara, NSW. Adapted by Andrew James, the production team portrayed Lindsay’s characters in the story as actors instead a puppetry.

3) In 2000, an adaptation of Lindsay’s The Magic Pudding happened through an animated feature-length film with the same title. The film casted John Cleese voicing the title role, Geoffrey Rush as Bunyip, Sam Neill as Sam, and  Hugo Weaving as Bill. It was not a financial success since it was deviated from the originality of the true story and received mixed reviews from the critics.

4) In 1960, Lindsay’s story was adapted as a puppet show by the Peter Scriven and for which Lindsay himself put efforts to produce 40 drawings. And the Scriven’s puppet show adapted from Lindsay’s children’s story, Marionette Theatre of Australia was performed throughout Australia until 1988.

Significance of the Story

One day Norman Lindsay had an argument with his friend: Bertram Stevens, Lindsay’s friend said that mostly children’s love to read about fairies but Lindsay asserted that children’s would rather love to read about food and fighting as a reply to his friend’s statement. And finally this argument of Lindsay with his friend made him to write this magical story of The Magic Pudding.

Guinea Book (21 shillings) was the first edition of The Magic Pudding and was sold in limited stock and that’s the reason the book again demanded to reprint and re-issue. So, the book was re-issued by “The New York Review Children’s Collection” in 2004. Later in 2008, a new edition was released in order to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the story, The Magic Pudding. In addition, October 12 was declared as the ‘Pudding Day’ in the same year 2008.

Harper Collins in 2018 released a centennial edition while the State Library of New South Wales opened an exhibition encompassing Lindsay’s original drawings for the book.

Editorial Reviews

“The greatest strength to this funniest Australian children’s story book is its ‘magical illustration’ given by Lindsay. Lindsay’s experience as a writer, virtual artist, producer producing thousands of drawings, paintings, sculptures, etchings, and in pictures of his, The Magic Pudding is his best work ever. Though it is illogical, the strong characterizations and every detailing just attracted me and more like The Magic Pudding is an eye delight in my view.” —says Philip Pullman on his favorite children’s book, Publishers Weekly, December 2015.

“A robust fantasy, The Magic Pudding was first published in 1918 but shows few signs of its age. It is part of a handsome, new collection of reprints, published by The New York Review of Books, aimed at rescuing neglected children’s classics from ‘the dustbins of history’. There’s no dust on Lindsay’s quirky tale about the adventures of Bunyip Bluegum, an irrepressible, polite young koala. He meets various eccentric characters who burst into song and rhyme. In the introduction to the new edition, Philip Pullman, author of The Amber Spyglass, calls Lindsay’s work ‘the funniest children’s book ever written…You can feel Lindsay carried away on the wings of his own energy’.” — By USA Today, “Holiday Books”

“The Magic Pudding is one of my all-time favourite children’s books – an unmissable read for anyone who has not already encountered it … The New York Review’s Children’s collection is full of such choice reprints that I would gladly have every one of their publications on my shelves.” —Kate Kellaway, the Guardian (UK)

“The illustrations are great fun, the characters burst into comic verse at the drop of a hat, and it’s hard to resist.”— The Horn Book

And the “New York Review of Books” calls it, “Wild and woolly, funny and outrageously fun.”

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *