'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 18 November 2011

Review: Side by Side, Shoulder to Shoulder

Young Tom is off with Grandpa to watch his favourite team at footy training. As they walk through the gates of Victoria Park, his grandfather removes his black and white Collingwood scarf from and curls it around Tom’s neck.

“Like your father and my father before me,” he says, “You have been born a Collingwood supporter.”

And so begins this story of loyalty, working together . . . and an unabashed addiction to one of the world’s most passionately supported ball games - AFL.

As Tom and his grandpa watch the team train, Grandpa begins talking about the team’s players and the value they bring to the side.

He then begins talking of historical players, the best handballers, the most fearless decoys, and the most thrilling grand finals. Tom listens wide-eyed as he learns even more about the ins and outs and nitty gritty of the game, from the white lines down the centre of the oval to the need for reservers and how shepherding and chasing are just as important as goal kicking.

Essentially, Side by Side is a book combining a warm grandfather/grandson relationship with an abridged account of the history of the Collingwood side. Vintage photos, news clippings, ephemera, cartoons and colour illustrations combine to create a collage of beautifully-crafted pages, all bordered by that iconic black and white stripe.

Broken into chapters with such headings as Men of Skill, The Innovators and Fearless Players, the book also features a glossary, an historical fact timeline, run-downs of Collingwood’s six grand final wins and biographic notes on the side’s best players.

Author Neridah McMullen has a clear passion for her side, even dropping in the old “We have a lot of good players, Grandpa. Is that why everyone hates us?” which made me smile.

In Side by Side, she has created a comprehensive and beautifully-researched account of one of the most successful AFL sides, and has created a unique book young footballers will enjoy. Using football lingo that will delight these young followers, this is a must-have for supporters of the Pies.

Title: Side by Side, Shoulder to Shoulder
Author: Neridah McMullen
Illustrator: Ainsley Walters
Publisher: One Day Hill, $19.95
Publication Date: September 2011
ISBN: 9780980794809
Format: Hard cover
For ages: 6 - 12
Type: Picture Book