Wednesday, 7 December 2016

FORM ONE: News Break by Max Fatchan

Image result for max fatchen poems

On October 14 2012 Australia lost one of its living treasurers. Max Fatchen was a words craftsman. He was equally respected in the worlds of literature and journalism, having received prestigious awards including an Order of Australia for literature in 1980, an Advance Australia Award for literature in 1991 and a Walkley Award for journalism in 1996.

Max Fatchen was born in 1920 at Angle Vale in the South Australian plains. He walked away from farming life to embrace a life of words. He started his working life as a copyboy for the Adelaide News in the late 1930s. His love of journalism never waned. At 92 Max was still writing a column for a weekly newspaper in Adelaide as he had for the last 64 years - starting in The News in 1948 and then The Advertiser from 1955.

Having already had a successful career in journalism, Max began writing for children in 1966. When asked in an interview in 2010 why he took up writing for children, he reasoned, "Because they're the most challenging audience in the world. And I'm very fond of them, and they're fond of me.


Now why so loving, darling,
And why the sudden kiss?
You’d help me with some little jobs?
For goodness sake, what’s this?

Your face is clean for once, dear,
Your clothes without a crease.
You saved your luncheon money?
Will wonders never cease?

No dropping of your school books,
No shrieking, childish treble.
Today you are a lamb, love,
Where yesterday a rebel.

But surely you’re some stranger,
No rage or hullabaloo.
Come closer, let me look, dear,
Can this be REALLY you?

Now were you struck by lightning
Or were you stunned at sport?
Ah … now I see the reason.
You’ve brought your school report!
– Max Fatchen

1. The poem has six stanzas.
2. Each stanza consists of 4 lines.
3. It has a specific rhyme abcb.
4. The rhyming words make the poem sound musical.
5. It is about a child whose behaviour changes ant the puzzled parent learnt about the reason at the end of the poem.


In the first stanza, the parent is wondering why his child’s behaviour is suddenly so loving.The child even gives a kiss to the parent and the parent is bewildered that the child offers help. The parent desperately wants to know the reason for the sudden change.

Image result for A CHILD KISSIN MOTHER   Image result for A CHILD KISSIN MOTHER

In the second stanza, the parent is surprised to see the child’s face neat and tidy. The child’s clothes are also neat as if it has been ironed and has no crumples.
Image result for a tidy boy   Image result for DIRTY CLOTHES school uniform
The parent is also shocked to know that the child did not spend his money for lunch that day as he usually does.

Related image

The parent is astonished with all the surprises that he is getting and thinks when it would all end.

In  stanza 3, the parent is surprised that his child did not drop his school books as he returns home.Image result for NEAT BOOKS IN SCHOOL BAGS      Image result for BOOKS ON THE FLOOR

The child does not scream or show an outburst of anger. The parent praises the child for his good behaviour that day as the child acts like a gentle lamb when just the previous day, the child was going against his parent.

Image result for A GENTLE LAMB   Image result for A WAILING CHILD

In stanza 4, the parent feels as if the child is a stranger to him – like a new person.

The child does not show any anger or any emotional disturbance. Therefore, the parent asks the child to come closer so that he can see his child better as he wonders if that is really his child.

That brings us to the last stanza, stanza five, where he also wonders whether his child had been struck by lightning or injured during sports that has made him temporarily unable to react. Finally, he understands the real reason for the change as he noticed that the child has brought his school progress report.
Image result for report card progress comments

Point Of View

The first person point of view is used

No specific time frame is mentioned.
The setting is in a house.

A parents who is puzzled to see the chil's sudden changes of behaviours.

Tone and mood
It is light-hearted and humorous. The reader is fuul of curiousity at the beginning but laugh when they read the last sentence.

1. Honesty is the best policy
2. Disobedience
3. Ulterior motive

Moral Value
2. Behave well
3. Courage to face unpleasant consequences


The poet uses metaphor to describe the behaviour of the child. ‘Today you’re a lamb’ which shows innocence and obedience when the child is compared to a lamb; and ‘Where yesterday a rebel’ which shows disobedience and defiance when the child is said to be a rebel (lines 11 and 12)

Structure, Style and Language

The poem consists of 5 stanzas with four lines and the rhyme scheme is ‘a, b, c, b’.  The style is simple and direct. The language and choice of words used is easy to understand as we can relate it to what a child does.


  1. Hello Sir Max Fatchen . thank you for those explaination . it helped me for my homework.

  2. If the question asks
    Why does the persona say 'will wonders never cease'? Is it right to wonder about one's child this way?
    What do I answer?