Have you ever wondered how many words rhyme with g’nu? Jimmy Barnes seems to have found every single rhyming word in his wonderful new venture into children’s entertainment, The Recorded Poems of Och Aye the G’nu. Part book, part album, Barnes has collaborated with long-time partner and founder of The Wiggles, Anthony Field (the blue Wiggle!). Legendary rocker Barnes has come forth with a wonderful collection of poems for his grandson Dylan, and what’s more, he’s set them to infectious and groovy melodies, populated by each member of the Wiggles. The result is a quirky, fun collection of poems and songs, which will leave kids and adults alike boogying.
The poems are delightful, featuring G’nu, a cute wildebeest, and his best friend, Kangaroo. Barnes based the loveable G’nu on his grandson Dylan, “a red headed, blue eyed Scotsman, who’s half Thai,” and the collection of poems are based in a zoo in Glasgow. G’nu misses his home in Sub-Saharan Africa, but with his best friend Kangaroo, and his other animal friends in the zoo, G’nu has all kinds of adventures – in the zoo with his friends, and in his imagination. Kangaroo and G’nu go on all kinds of adventures together; they play in the snow, they sail around the world, and they sing the blues together, but throughout every moment of Och Aye the G’nu, the constant is their friendship. Barnes writes,
People thought it was strange
To see two stuck like glue.
When one of them moved,
The other did, too.
They stayed side by side,
They were friends through and through.
The young G’nu, Och Aye,
And his friend Kangaroo.
Barnes, a Scottish born musician and author, wrote the collection the last time he visited Scotland, and the presence of his homeland is overwhelming, from the descriptions of the snowy weather, to the adorable kilt that G’nu wears. The sentimentality and emotion layered through each line and moment of song sings through, and there’s no denying it: Barnes loves Scotland, and he loves his family. Much like classics Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows, The Recorded Poems of Och Aye The G’nu have an enduring connection to the land around them, which only amplifies the adorable characters and themes of friendship that truly make the collection remarkable.
The illustrations are nothing to sniff at, either. Illustrated by the inimitable Kat Chadwick, the collection comes with multiple sketches of Och Aye and Kangaroo in all their adventures. We see them dancing as Och Aye sings the blues, and we see them curled up in their room together (which the zookeepers put out especially for the best friends), spending time together and laughing. For all the book is memorable because of Barnes’ delightful writing, Chadwick’s illustrations only make us feel ever closer to Och Aye and his friends.
While there are seven lengthy poems in the collection, the album that comes with the book has even more delightful songs attached. The poems are of course put to music, but in addition, there are several songs that will just make your little ones want to get up and dance. While a children’s venture, Barnes’ musical prowess, along with creative cooperation from the Wiggles, is clear. Adults and children alike won’t be able to resist singing along to these adorable songs, learning about the animals of the world, friendship, and of course – all the words you could ever want that rhyme with G’nu.