15.Nov.2011 The Adventures of Doctor Duffer by John Marshall

As you may now know, I’m in the midst of moving to New York. And with this has come the necessary cleaning out of books.

Many from my own childhood have gone to new homes where they’ll be appreciated by children other than my own. But I have kept a select stash of my own which are being shipped to a future tiny apartment somewhere in Manhattan.

One that is coming with us, and that I’ve just started reading to my vehicle-obsessed son, is The Adventures of Doctor Duffer.

Written by a former prime minister of New Zealand (my copy signed even!), Doctor Duffer is a quaint story of adventures with a smart parrot with a ‘West Indian accent’, a trusty terrier, and a Polynesian boy who accompany the Doctor as he travels the world. The best thing about the series is the Aeronaut, Duffer’s vessel that can fly, sail, drive and even dive underwater. It is an easy hook and even though some of the adventures themselves show their age (the stories were written by Marshall when he was a student in the late 1930s), they also capture a particular New Zealand-ness which I hope will be useful when my kids struggle to distinguish ‘colour’ from ‘color’.

Come to think of it, the Aeronaut was probably why I also have kept Jan Wahl’s SOS Bobomobile to read. But that will be another post.

Another useless fact. I’ve actually got another book from a New Zealand Prime Minister. Geoffrey Palmer gave my daughter her first copy of Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy shortly after she was born!

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