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Having been born in semi-rural Australia in war-time I was deprived of books. This did not affect the development of my natural love of books and language. My father taught me to read by reading aloud the Ginger Megs newspaper comic strip whilst I followed the printed ‘word bubbles’.

The one book that lucky children got for Christmas was the Cole’s Funny Picture Book or Family Amuser and Instructor. The title described it perfectly.  It was printed on the flimsiest war-time paper, easily torn by children. Nevertheless I had great respect for its voluminous contents; much seemingly adapted, as I later discovered, from earlier books printed in the UK that had found their way to Australia before World War II closed shipping lanes.

When my children became of reading age, my mother mailed me a copy that had been reprinted through the nation’s nostalgic demand. I have it still, made all the more precious by my own children’s colouring-in of some of the stark black and white pages.

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