Litscope: News Break by Max Fatchen

LitScope: News Break by Max Fatchen

For Malaysian Form 1 Students.

The Poem

News Break

Now why so loving, darling,
And why the sudden kiss?
You’d help me with some little jobs?
For goodness sake, what’s this?

Your face is clean for once, dear.
Your clothes without a crease.
You saved your luncheon money?
Will wonders never cease?

No dropping of your school books,
No shrieking, childish treble.
Today you are a lamb, love,
Where yesterday a rebel.

But surely you’re some stranger,
No rage or hullabaloo,
Come closer, let me look, dear,
Can this be REALLY you?

Now were you struck by lightning
Or were you stunned at sport?
Ah…now i see the reason.
You’ve brought your school report!

Max Fatchen
The Poet: Max Fatchen
  • Born in Adelaide, South Australia.
  • Spent his childhood on an Adelaide Plains farm at Angle Vale.
  • Was an Australian Journalist and Children’s Writer
  • Spent five years in the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force.
  • Spent four decades writing Children’s books.
  • Wrote 20 books, novels appeared in seven countries, poems known throughout the English Speaking world.
  • Three of his books received commendations in the Children’s Book of the Year Award. 
  • Won the Advance Australia Award for Literature in 1991, Walkley Award for journalism in 1996, the Primary English Teaching Associations Award for children’s poetry in 1996 and the SA Great Award for Literature in 1999.
  • Became an inaugural Life Member of the SA Writers Centre in 2004.
  • Received the Centenary of Federation Medal in 2003.
  • Appointed as a member of the Order of Australia in 1980.
  • Max Fatchen Drive, Angle Vale and the Max Fatchen Expressway are named after him.

Sourced from:

What are the stanzas about? 

Stanza 1

The persona asks the child, why is he suddenly so loving and helping out with the house chores. The persona is indeed shocked with the child’s behaviour.

Stanza 2

The persona adds that the child’s face is surprisingly clean, and the child’s clothes are not creased as well. The child also saved his pocket money meant for his lunch, the persona is still in shock with the child’s weird behaviour.

Stanza 3

The child does not drop his school books and is not speaking in his high pitched voice as well. The persona tells the child he is “innocent” today compared to his “naughty” character before this.

Stanza 4

The persona insists the child is very different from before and also adds that the child is awkwardly quiet. The persona observes the child closely, and the use of capital letters for “REALLY” indicates that the persona still cannot come to terms that that is the persona’s child.

Stanza 5

The persona asks the child if he was struck by lighting or possible shocked of the sport results. The persona later realises that the child has brought home his school results.

So what is the whole poem about then?

Max Fatchen’s News Break is a poem of a scenario of a child handing over his exam results to his parents. The poem highlights the sudden change in the child’s behaviour possibly indicating that the child probably knows he is in trouble with his results but is trying hard to be a “good boy” to soften the parents’ anger towards his results. This also tells us that the boy knows how to make his parents happy and also knows what he should do to make his parents happy but like every growing child, at times, it is completely normal to being a child – that is playing, having fun, getting your shoes dirty and uniforms creased.

It can be quite confusing to understand what the poem is about by reading the first four stanzas, but it is that very last sentence of stanza five that summarises the whole poem, giving the reader a “thump in the head” of what the whole poem is about and the answer to why the child was acting strangely.


Children do not see the bigger picture

Throughout the poem, the persona is baffled by the child’s sudden change in behaviour. The child, tries his best to be a good child when he has gotten his exam results and knows exactly what to do to make the persona happy. However, this indicates that children are well aware of what makes their parents or even teachers happy or annoyed but, as being children, they do not see the importance of being disciplined or getting good grades because they are not grown-ups and they lack maturity. Children only see an issue as it is, and they do not think deeply about the reasons and what they should do to overcome it. In this poem, we can see how childish the child was hoping that by putting on a good-boy show would magically make the persona be all happy of his results.

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