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Lit Circles - Primary: The Bamboo Flute

About the book

undefinedThe Bamboo Flute by Garry Disher

"Did you buy him a flute? You know we can't afford a flute." "He made it," my mothers say proudly. My father looks from one of us to the other. He's not sure how to respond. Part of him wants to show his usual disapproval, but he's also curious, and my mother's delight is thawing him a little.


Paul is a dreamer, his head alive with rippling pianos, gentle violins and the smiles of Margaret, the one he loves. But in the cold light of the day, Margaret snubs him at school, the piano has been sold, his father is battling to keep the farm, and dejected men are tramping the roads....looking for work, a sandwich, a cup of tea....No-one has time for music or dreams. Then Eric the Red comes along. Eric the Red, with his solver flute, his knowing wink and boots held together with wire. Eric the Red, just a step ahead of the law. Eric the Red, who knows how to make a flute from a piece of bamboo....

GENRE: Historical fiction


  • Economic hardship
  • Hope
  • Respect
  • Recognition

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Extension material

Questions for your circle

  • We learn that Paul is a dreamer - give some examples to show this.
  • Why do you think Eric the Red has earned this nickname? Is there any reference to this in the story?
  • Paul thinks that his father might have 'the war back in his head'. What would this mean? Research more about the mental conditions faced by returning servicemen after the wars.
  • The title of this book is The Bamboo Flute - what does the flute signify throughout the story and how does it prove important?


The Sound of the Bamboo Flute