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Literature / The Magic Pudding

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A much-loved piece of Australian children's literature, written by Norman Lindsay in the early 1900s (it was published in 1918).

Bunyip Bluegum the koala lives with his uncle Wattleberry in a small treehouse, a lifestyle he rather enjoys, except for one thing: his uncle's tremendous beard makes things a terrible hassle, and his uncle won't hear a word of trimming it off. Sick of having to eat his soup outside (which is terribly drafty, and lizards come and beg soup off of him), Bunyip resolves to set off into the world. Pausing only due to being stuck on whether to be a traveller (and keep all his belongings in a bag) or a swagman (And lug around a swag), a quick visit to a friendly poet clarifies he has neither bag nor swag, so he should instead become a "gentleman of leisure" and make his way in the world with nothing but his wits, a stout walking stick, and a polite attitude, Bunyip then sets off.

Unfortunately, in his haste, he forgets to take some provisions, and soon finds lunchtime upon him whilst being ravenously hungry. As he continues travelling, he meets a crusty old sailor and a penguin having lunch, and he politely tries to subtly invite himself to the meal. To his great surprise, the food itself (a steak- and-kidney-pudding[pie]) suddenly growls at the sailor and the penguin to let him sit down and enjoy some of it. Introducing themselves as Bill Barnacle and Sam Sawnoff, they allow him to sit down and eat. When lunch concludes, the new quartet begin travelling together, with Bill and Sam explaining that the pudding, or Albert, is a magical concoction created by, and subsequently "acquired" from, a former shipmate of theirs; a greedy Chinese cook (and part-time wizard) by the name of Curry and Rice. Their travels are interrupted by a sudden appearance of a shady wombat and equally shady possum; these, the sailor and the penguin explain, are "pudding thieves" who want to make off with their magic pudding, and Bunyip promptly offers to keep Albert contained and out of mischief while the two fight the thieves off.

Afterwards, in appreciation of what Bunyip did, Bill and Sam induct him into the "Noble Society of Pudding Owners", allowing him to continue travelling on together and sharing Albert's delicious sides. Bunyip eagerly accepts, though the pudding thieves come back and make off with Albert several times before everything is sorted out to a happy ending.


  • Anthropomorphic Food: Albert, quite literally. For some reason, the same magic that made him a "cut and come again pudding" (no matter how much is taken, he always regrows, and is able to change to any variety of pudding, cake or pie just by whistling twice and turning the bowl around) also gave him a face, spindly arms and legs, and a wicked tongue.
  • Guile Hero: Bunyip Bluegum is the most calm, rational member of the trio, and tends to be the cleverest as well. Bunyip is the one who sorts things out when trapped in a Kangaroo Court; by claiming that Albert was poisoned, which sends the judge into such a panic (he and the Usher having been gorging on the pudding through the trial) that he goes wild and starts attacking everyone with a bottle of port. He then snatches the pudding and gets out of there with his friends.
  • Hypocritical Humor: A certain amount of humor arises from the blatant hypocrisy of some of the cast. One of the more noteworthy is Albert, who is normally portrayed as demanding that his owners gorge themselves on his bounty, and throwing tantrums if they stop before he feels they should, singing a song in which he laments being a pudding and cursing his owners with stomachaches for eating him so much.
  • Jerkass: Albert. He's rude, mean-spirited, loves to play tricks, throws tantrums, and generally acts like a very bratty child.
  • Kangaroo Court: The final drama of the book is when the pudding thieves get the pudding owners shanghaied into the court of Tooraloo by claiming that they (the thieves) are the actual owners and that Bunyip, Bill and Sam are the thieves. The Judge and the Usher are both portrayed as blatantly corrupt, if not outright incompetent, and are more interested in stuffing themselves on Albert than in actually resolving the crime.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: It's made pretty blatant to any reader that Bill and Sam wound up pushing Curry and Rice into the ocean to drown. Given the situation, though, it's hard to blame them; Curry and Rice fully intended to watch them starve to death for his own amusement, all whilst hoarding an infinite supply of food to himself.
  • Yellow Peril: Curry and Rice — beyond his atrocious name, he's a Fat Bastard of a Villainous Glutton who uses strange magical powers to create an infinitely renewable pastry and then hoards it to himself while watching his fellow shipwreck strandees slowly starving to death. About the only way he's not a racist icon is his art, and that's because all of the humans portrayed in the illustrations are bizarre-looking caricatures.