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Frank Morris
Frank Morris. 14 July 2022

A Look Back: Why do Kookaburras laugh?

An ideal one to read to the grandkids. Straight from the John Mystery Book, Why Kookaburras Laugh, and various other titles, published in 1940.

For holidays, up on the farm, went Rosie for a term.
And with her went the great big book
In which lived the Bookie Worm.
She’d often heard about the bird that humans loved to chuff.
From Bookie Worm she’d surely learn
Why Kookaburras laugh!

The first night, Rosie was at the farm,
The great big book beneath her arm, quietly crept out to the barn
To listen to the wise elf’s yarn.
Beneath the lantern were shadows weird
The Bookie Worm soon suddenly appeared.
Said Rosie, “Bookie, have you heard what caused the Laughing Bird?”

So, Bookie Worm sat on his house,
And Rosie, like a little mouse, listen quietly to each word.
And this is the strange, strange tale she heard
About the Laughing Jackass Bird,
“Whom”, said Bookie, “always thorough,
Aboriginals call the Kookaburra.”

“I’ve read the book”.

Once, long ago, you understand,
The Earth had much more sea than land, and where the land
Is now, was sea,
With sea now where land used to be.
Well, on this land lived folk so sad,
Their worst sin was to look happy or glad.
And so, their Police were continually after
Any Happiness sound, or noises like laughter.

… sometime later!

To the North-Land, the South-Land, the West-Land, the East-Land
They sent word to all to prepare a great feast
To welcome for all time, one to each land,
The Spirits of Laughter and Joy now at hand!
The Police of Sad-Land weren’t good men at all,
Not like our policemen, so friendly and tall,
So cheerful and happy, who, when day is done,
Go home to their children and, like us, have fun. 

They were not thief-catchers, they were the rooks!
They were the robbers, they were the crooks!
So, these Sad-Men, these bad-men, as soon as you will see,
By Six Dwarfs were defeated, with laughter and glee.
The Sad-Police arrived at the cave on a horse,
Ready to banish every Laughing Dwarf.

“Did you hear the Kookaburras laugh? I did!”

One to each country had flown away,
And so, each dwarf still lives today.
The Laughter Falcon, the Laughter Owl,
The Laughter Goose with his giggling howl,
The Laughter Gull and the Green,
The prettiest wood-pecker ever seen,
All these escaped, free and alive.
Said Rose, “But, Bookie – that’s only five!
What happened to the Laughter King?”
Said Bookie, “Ah, That just the thing!”

The Magic Spell was not a failure,
The King of the Dwarfs flew to Australia!
Now in the gum trees, each day and a half,
You hear the Kookaburra laugh!
For he of the Dwarfs is the Magic King,
And so, his laughter the best does ring
So happily, round the old homestead!
Good night, dear Rosie, I’m off to bed!


<< Part text from the book, Adapted by Frank Morris.


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