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

Friday 13 April 2012

Review: Kick it to Me

In 1846, 10-year-old Tom Wills was living in Moyston in the Gariwerd Grampions near an indigenous tribe called the Djab Wurrung. Befriended by the local children, Tom learned their language and joined in their games of Marn-grook football.

These childhood years laid the foundation for a passionate interest in sport and a belief that Australia could have its own football code. In 1858 Wills wrote a letter to a local Victorian newspaper suggesting that a football club be formed. He went on to become the first hero of Australian Rules and one of the most influential figures in the game, helping to form the rules, officiate, administrate and play the game.

This charmingly illustrated picture book captures the first invitation for Tom to join the Djab Wurrung boys in their Marn-grook game. Tom is amazed by the boys’ enthusiasm and energy, especially when Balun leaps high onto Jirra’s shoulders to snatch the ball from midair.

Kick it to Me
is a wonderful story for young sport fans. There is some question in historical records regarding the role Marn-grook played in inspiring Wills’ passion for creating an Australian football code, but his childhood years influenced by the Djab Wurrung tribe are undeniable and the story is a fascinating example of a blending of cultures in the formative years of Australian sport.

The book includes an introduction by Eddie McGuire and a brief background of Tom Wills’ life. Kick it to Me is listed by the publisher as ideal for children 10+, but I think it would appeal to children younger than this, especially those with an interest in sport in general and AFL in particular. It also serves as a powerful reminder to parents of the far-reaching influence early experiences can have in the lives of our children.

Title: Kick it to Me
Author: Neridah McMullin
Illustrator: Peter Hudson
Publisher: One Day Hill, $19.99 RRP
Publication Date: March 2012
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780980794861
For ages: 7+ years
Type: Picture book