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

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Review: Marngrook

There's something to be said for synchronicity. This past year, I've reviewed a major spate of books that cover virtually identical themes - and the surprise here is that they are usually on quite obscure themes or singular occurences that are not very well known. Spooky.

Blame it on the zeitgeist - but having just reviewed Neridah McMullen's  Kick It To Me - about Tom Wills and his experience with marngrook with Indigenous children in the mid-1800s - I was eyeboggled to see this new book from the good people at Magabala Press - Marngrook, which also covers the fascinating origins of Australian Rules Football.

Not that I'm complaining. I think this story is incredible and I loved reading about the birth of AFL all over again. I most particularly love how these stories are setting the record straight on so much of our past. It's enthralling.

This story takes place at the foot of Duwul, the highest mountain Western Victoria's Grampians region, and home to the Djab-Wurrung and Jardwadjali people.

One day clan elder Wawi makes a marngrook - a ball - from banya skin, sewing it with the tendon from a kangaroo tail. He stuffs it with emu feathers and moulds it into an emu egg shape. His son Jaara and friends love to play with the marngrook. They spend hours bouncing it and practising their kicks - using throwing, kicking and leaping techniques that can be found in modern day AFL.

Author Titta Secombe's passion for storytelling is clear in Marngrook. Descended from the Djab-Wurrung and Jardwadjali clans, she has worked for years in education and sports programmes to develop the talents of young Indigenous Australian Rules Football players. Titta grew up hearing her Elders tell the story of marngrook, the ball game played by her ancestors.

Artist Fielding has created a striking set of illustrations for the book, using a blending of both traditional Aboriginal and modern techniques. A word glossary at the front of the book helps readers learn how to pronounce words correctly.

Title: Marngrook: The long ago story of Aussie Rules
Author: Titta (Diana) Secombe
Illustrator: Grace Fielding
Publisher: Magabala Books, $16.95 RRP
Publication Date: 9 April 2012
Format: Soft Cover
ISBN:  9781921248443
For ages: 5 - 10
Type: Picture Book