Great Goal! Marvellous Mark! by Katrina Germein ill Janine Dawson

Aussie Rules is awesome.
I always arrive on time.
Out on the boundary Bailey warms up.
He takes a bounce and boots the ball; a banana kick bends to me.

Great Goal! Marvellous Mark!’ begins with the arrival of players at an AFL football game, continues through the game and ends as the game does. Told from the perspective of one of the players, it is also an alphabet book. As the game progresses, so does the alphabet. Every player has a chance to shine, whether it’s taking marks, making a pass, or kicking a goal. The rain may come down, the grass may turn into mud, but nothing can dampen the enthusiasm of these ball players. Illustrations depict a dull and rainy day with umbrella-wielding parents cheering from the sidelines.

Great Goal! Marvellous Mark!’ celebrates junior AFL football, and all the things it should be about – having fun, having a go, learning teamwork and sliding in the mud. The alphabetic sentences read easily and are full of football-ness. The illustrations are full of extra elements for the reader to find, from the mud following the flight of the ball on the ‘f’ page to the child eating under the watchful eye of a magpie on the ‘v’ page. A broad range of cultures and body types are represented, as is the child who lives, eats, breathes and sleeps football. Recommended for early-schoolers.

Great Goal! Marvellous Mark!, Katrina Germein ill Janine Dawson
Ford Street Publishing 2017
ISBN: 9781925272673

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

The Game of Their Lives, by Nick Richardson

While the match was, at one level, an exhibition for the Diggers and the curious onlookers, for the players it was something else – a chance to run around in the open air, to play the game they loved and test themselves in the way that they knew, body on body, running, jumping and kicking. It was a wonderful antidote to the dull routine of training and the anxiety of anticipation about what was ahead.

Australian Rules Football has a long history here at home, but has often been an enigma to people in other countries. For one day in 1916, though, football took centre stage when two teams of Australian soldiers played an exhibition match in London. The teams, drawn from soldiers waiting to be called to the Western Front, comprised men who had played football in teams across Australia, some of them big name players. In the weeks leading up to the match they trained hard and, on the day, for just a few hours, they could play the game they loved almost as if they were back home in Australia.

The Game of Their Lives tells the story of the game, and of the men who played in it. Starting before the war, and tracing through to the years following, readers are introduced to the players, umpires and officials as well as to men who made the game possible, including General Monash and YMCA man, and Australian swimmer, Frank Beaurepair. There is also close exploration of the impact of the war on sport at home in Australia, particularly the pressure for sportsmen to enlist, and the conscription debate.

For anyone with a love of football or war history.

The Game of Their Lives , by Nick Richardson
Pan Macmillan, 2016
ISBN 9781743536667

Badudu Stories, by May L. O'Brien

The umpire quickly beckoned Landy to his mark. Just as he was about to kick the ball, someone else yelled, ‘Aren’t you a smartie pants? You can’t kick a goal from there!’
Landy stumbled, lost his concentration and kicked from the side of his boot…
Then he frowned and looked down at his pants. Smartie pants? Does that mean my pants are smart?

Colloquial expressions like smartie pants and too big for your boots, words with two meanings, and even expressions of social nicety such as saying thankyou are among the many challenges for learners of English as a second language. In Badudu Stories, thee difficulties are explored through characters learning to speak English at a remote school in central Western Australia. The characters deal with the complexities of English while also having common childhood experiences – playing football, forming friendships and learning to fit in.

The stories draw on author May L. O’Brien’s childhood experiences at Mount Margaret Mission, and as a teacher in rural and metropolitan schools, though the stories have a contemporary rather than historical feel. The stories were published as picture books in 1994 and have now been reproduced in one volume, suitable for primary aged readers.


Badudu Stories

Badudu Stories, by May L. O’Brien, illustrated by Angela Leaney
Fremantle Press, 2014
ISBN 978192208982

Available from good bookstores or online.

Marngrook – The Long-ago story of Aussie Rules by Titta Secombe ill Grace Fielding

In the bush, at the foot of the Grampians, lived people from the Djab-Wurrung and Jardwadjali clans.

This was their traditional country and they had lived in the area for thousands of years.

In the bush, at the foot of the Grampians, lived people from the Djab-Wurrung and Jardwadjali clans.

This was their traditional country and they had lived in the area for thousands of years.

A father is hunting when he sees a possum. Not only will the family have dinner, but Wawi will make a ball for his son to play with. He uses the skin, some kangaroo sinew and some emu feathers. And so the first football, shaped like an emu egg, is made. Wawi’s son loves to play with the ball, so much so that one day he wanders too far from camp and cannot find his way home. The bush at night is filled with unfamiliar sounds and shapes, just as his mother had warned him. Illustrations mix traditional Aboriginal painting styles with more representational images.

Marngrook is a traditional tale about the ball that went on to be used in developing Australian Rules football. It shares not only the invention of the ball, but something of the traditional life of a particular family group. There are references to other traditional stories, hunting tools, cooking methods and family roles. The reader can follows the main narrative thread and absorb so many other details, almost incidentally. Recommended for junior- to mid-primary readers.

Marngrook: The Long-ago Story of Aussie Rules

Marngrook: The Long-ago Story of Aussie Rules, Titta Secombe ill Grace Fielding Magabala Books 2012 ISBN: 9781921248443

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

Kick it to Me, by Neridah McMullin & Peter Hudson

When cricket season ends, Tom is desolate. What will he do with himself with no cricket to play? Luckily, his friend Jirra, from the Djab Wurrung tribe, has an idea.

It shoots off to the right and racing after it, they’re jostling and laughing and pushing each other trying to be the first to pick up the ball.

When cricket season ends, Tom is desolate. What will he do with himself with no cricket to play? Luckily, his friend Jirra, from the Djab Wurrung tribe, has an idea. Jirra will teach him to play a fun game that he and his friends love to play – Marn-grook. Soon, Tom is happy again as he plays the game of kicking and catching with Jirra and his friends.

Kick it to Me offers the story of the origins of Australian Rules football. Tom Wills, the boy in the story, was a key figure in the development of the sport now known as Australian Rules football, drawing on the game he learned from his Aboriginal friends as a child. The fictionalised story of Tom’s childhood is complemented by back of book notes, as well as a foreword by Collingwood President and television personality Eddie McGuire.

In hard cover picture book format with illustrations by Peter Hudson, this story of the origins of our national sport has been released just in time for the new footy season.

Kick it to Me

Kick it to Me, by Neridah McMullin & Peter Hudson
One Day Hill, 2011
ISBN 9780980794861

This book is available in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

That's Ambitious, by Dennis Cometti

Harvey, the smallest player in the AFL, has become a marking option. Remarkable! He might be the only guy in the competition whose feet appear in his driver licence photo.

Sporting fans around Australia are regularly treated to the commentary skills of Dennis Cometti. His in depth knowledge and eloquent style make him popular, but it is his way with words which most often draws attention. Cometti-isms – sometimes planned and researched, other times spur of the moment – are casually dropped into his commentary to the delight of fans and, sometimes, the bemusement of his co-commentators.

That’s Ambitious is Cometti’s second collection of his favourite comments and is accompanied by explanations of the context in which each comment was made, as well as black and white photos.

For any Cometti or football fan, this little offering is a delight.

That's Ambitious: More Classic Commentary

That’s Ambitious, by Dennis Cometti
Allen & Unwin, 2007

This book is available from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

I Want to be a Footballer, by Sally Carbon

Dream the dream,
live the life,
play the game.

From the day that he plays his first Auskick game Dane loves footy and dreams of one day playing in the AFL. But as he grows up, Danes discovers that becoming a champion will take more than dreaming – there’s a lot of hard word and dedication needed, too.

I Want to be a Footballer follows Dane from that first Auskick Game through to the Under 16s National Schoolboy Championships, as his dream burgeons and gets closer to becoming reality. Alongside the story there are loads of AFL facts, a short history of AFL and plenty more.

Author Sally Carbon has plenty of experience with top level sport. She represented Australia in women’s hockey at Olympic level. Through this book she aims to inspire children to participate in sport .

Suitable for young footy players I Want to Be a Footballer bears the official AFL logo, showing their endorsement of this fine book.

I Want to be a Footballer, by Sally Carbon
FACP, 2007

Goal! How Football Conquered the World, by Catherine Chambers

In 1746, Derby’s Mayor Humphrey Booth banned Shrovetide football, saying it might spread foot-and-mouth disease among the local cattle. Nearly 100 years later in 1846, another mayor who came bounding in on horseback to break up the games was stoned by a screaming mob, and got so angry that he called in the troops. The next year, no-one bothered turning up to play.(p24)

Many countries would like to lay claim to ‘inventing’ football but proof is difficult to establish. It is clear that, worldwide, balls have been kicked since very early times. Balls have been made from rubber, hair, sponge, animal skins, cloth and animal bladders. Football has been called ‘marn-grook’, ‘tsu chu’, ‘kemari’, ‘aqsaqtuk’, ‘episkyros’ and ‘soccer’. Football competitions have waxed and waned in different parts of the world, but always there has been passion. Passion to play, passion to follow. Football has grown into an sport played everywhere from backyards to the grandest stadium. It boasts over 250 million registered players and 30 billion followers. FIFA, the game’s governing body, recognises 207 national teams – more than there are countries in the UN.

Goal! How Football Conquered the World tracks the evolution of football (more commonly called soccer here) from earliest times. It is a history citing archaeological evidence, a collection of statistics and a compilation of anecdotes. There is an extensive index of players, teams and countries. Fans will eat up the statistics as well as the stories and legends that accompany any sport. The style is conversational and the language accessible to most readers. ‘Goal’ is pitched at upper primary – early secondary readers. Though there is a small section detailing the involvement of girls/women in football, the book will have most interest for boys.

Goal! How Football Conquered the World by Catherine Chambers
black dog books 2006
ISBN: 1876372982

Shirtfront – a short and amazing history of Aussie Rules, by Paula Hunt

‘In 1886 one train trip from Geelong nearly ended in tragedy when team rivalries got completely out of hand.’ ‘Outside Newport someone dislodged sections of the (train) track in an attempt to crash the trains. Luckily it was discovered in time.’

In 1858, a cricketer called Tom Wills, suggested that Melbourne develop its own football code, as a way of keeping cricketers fit over the winter. The first football game, between Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar, comprised 40 players per side and a ground which included gum trees and rocks.

From these humble beginnings grew what is now called Aussie Rules Football. The game grew with Melbourne, feeling with its people the effects of depression and world wars, to become a national competition. Along the way, it spawned tall tales and true, grew into an industry and inspired many children to become players or passionate followers. Many players achieved legend status, their names and deeds living on in conversations and more. Like many sports, Aussie Rules has enriched the English language with terms like ‘collywobbles’, ‘screamer/speckie’, ‘banana kick’ and ‘the G’.

Shirtfront is jam-packed full of statistics and stories about the history of Aussie Rules football and the characters who made it the game it is today. The history of the game is interwoven with the history of Melbourne. It explores state rivalries as well as the particular characteristics which have shaped individual teams. Paula Hunt has gathered a rich collection for the footy fan. Recommended for anyone interested in understanding and learning more about Aussie Rules football. Recommended for upper primary readers and beyond.

Shirtfront, by Paula Hunt
black dog books, 2005
ISBN 1876372664

AFL Footy Fan's Handbook, by Tony Wilson

Do you have a young football fan in your household? If so, this offering from Omnibus, officially endorsed by the AFL, is sure to appeal. Including a brief overview of the history of the game, followed by profiles of each team in the competition an explanation of how the finals series works, and a section of fun and games, this is both informative and entertaining.

Young fans will enjoy learning the lyrics of their club’s song , challenging themselves with any of the several quizzes, or boning up on some Brownlow Medal history. There are also loads of quick facts, and opportunities for kids to record the season’s highlights and more.

Sure to appeal to footy fans aged 7 to 12.

AFL Footy Fan’s Handbook, by Tony Wilson
Omnibus, 2006