'This article considers the formal features of Sydney Royal (1947) — by the canonised mainstream Australian writer (Stella) Miles Franklin (1879–1954) — against Bakhtin's description of the serio‐comical genre of the menippea. Generic location may make us reconsider dismissal of this virtually unknown work as an insignificant freak within children's literature. The menippea is a genre pervaded by ambivalence and dualism, and presents the literary reflections of carnival space and time and of carnival rituals. Its characteristic features are a comic element, free invention, an ideational end, slum naturalism, the posing of ultimate questions, three‐planed construction, an experimental fantasticality of perspective, the presentation of unusual psychic states, scandal, profanation of the sacred, sharp contrasts, oxymoronic combinations, Utopia, parody, multistylation and tonality, and presentation of topical issues. The carnival sense destroys barriers between genres and violates the sense of what is generically appropriate in a work. All these are features of Sydney Royal, which presents a space of all‐encompassing Utopian flux, a fantasticality of perspective incarnated by the blurred identities of all the characters and other devices, fairytale parody which breaks down the generic barriers between realistic and stylised narrative kinds, and the testing of ideas about the mutability of life and the simultaneity of time. The article is intended to start us thinking whether children's literature might have its own menippean tradition.'