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The Magic Pudding Illustrations

Video clip synopsis – Norman Lindsay’s The Magic Pudding is one of our best-loved children’s books and the central character, one of our great Australian anti-heroes.
Year of production - 2004
Duration - 4min 9sec
Tags - animation, art, Australian History, conscription, heritage, media, propaganda, war, World War 1, see all tags


The Magic Pudding Illustrations

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About the Video Clip


The Magic Pudding is an episode of the series National Treasures produced in 2004.

The Magic Pudding
How did bohemian artist Norman Lindsay, famous for painting provocative nudes, end up producing one of Australia’s best-loved children’s books? Cartoonist James Kemsley reveals the legend behind the creation of the first great Australian anti-hero – Albert the never-ending pudding – as Warren Brown takes a look at Lindsay’s original illustrations at the State Library of New South Wales.

National Treasures
Take a road-trip of discovery with the irrepressible Warren Brown – political cartoonist, columnist and history “tragic” – as he reveals a fascinating mix of national treasures drawn from public and private collections across Australia. On its own, each treasure is a priceless snapshot of an historic moment. Together, they illustrate the vitality and uniqueness of the Australian experience.

National Treasures is a Film Australia National Interest Program. Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Curriculum Focus


Inquiry questions:
How and why was the Anzac legend created?
What was the impact of World War I on the Australian home front 1914–18?

A student:
5.5 identifies, comprehends and evaluates historical sources
5.6 uses sources appropriately in an historical inquiry
5.7 explains different contexts, perspectives and interpretations of the past
5.10 selects and uses appropriate oral, written and other forms, including ICT, to communicate effectively about the past for different audiences.

This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies website for more information.

Background Information


The Magic Pudding is a children’s book by Norman Lindsay, published in 1918.

It is the adventures of the koala Bunyip Bluegum in search of his missing parents. One of his companions is a magic pudding, which magically renews itself whenever part of it is eaten. A gang of pudding thieves stalk the magic pudding, who is protected by his companions.

When Bunyip Bluegum finds he can no longer live with his uncle’s annoying whiskers, he sets out to find his own place in the world. Rather quickly he meets Sam Sawnoff (a penguin) and Bill Barnacle (a man with a long white beard) and their pudding, Albert. Albert can taste like steak and kidney pie, or plum duff, or any number of things. Albert is rather cranky and his goal in life seems to be to get people to eat as much of him as possible.

The pudding owners are in constant conflict with a couple of pudding thieves, who frequently succeed in stealing Albert for short bursts of time, until they are set upon and beaten up by the Society of Pudding Owners.

The story is a variation on the ‘three wishes’ theme common in fairy stories.

Classroom Activities

  1. Understanding the video clip
    1. What is The Magic Pudding?
    2. Why was it created?
    3. Why has it been a popular book?
    4. How do the illustrations show the skill of the artist Norman Lindsay?
    5. What is meant by an ‘antihero’?
    6. Who is an example of an antihero today?
    7. Why does the character of the Pudding appeal to many people?
  2. Exploring issues raised in the video clip
    1. Norman Lindsay was a popular cartoonist and a major propaganda artist during World War I. Go to the Australian War Memorial site, click on Collection Database, then on Collections Search, then type in Norman Lindsay and World War 1. You will find images of seven recruiting/patriotic cartoons.
      Look at these posters and discuss:
      * Who he presents in the posters
      * How he characterises these people
      * What messages he is presenting
      * The likely reactions of a variety of people to those posters, such as a man who has joined the army, a wounded soldier back from the war, the mother of a young man who is of eligible age, a man who has decided that he will not join the army, and the father of a soldier at the front.
    2. Could Lindsay’s posters be seen as uniting the community, dividing it, or both? Discuss your ideas.

Further Resources


For more National Treasures information and video clips go to the Investigating National Treasures website