Saturday 18 May 2013


Mates: Drongoes by Christine Bongers, illustrated by Dan McGuiness (Omnibus Books)
PB RRP $11.99
ISBN 978-1-86291-982-2
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

The year five cross-country race is an important one for Jack and his mate Eric. It is really the race to end all races - the one where Jack is finally going to beat Rocket Robertson, his racing nemesis. And it is the race that Eric is finally going to make it to the finish line.

In order to achieve these goals, the boys will need plenty of training – and maybe a little help from the spangled drongoes, those cheeky birds who hang out at the creek.

Drongoes is a title in the Mates – Great Australian Yarns series and is perfect for young readers. It is an easy-read chapter book but with a storyline which will also satisfy older reluctant readers. The connotations of drongoes (one of which is a horse famous for not winning a race) adds an extra dimension to the story which older readers will appreciate without affecting younger reader’s enjoyment. The humour is appropriate for both readerships as well.

This is an appealing book to look at as well as to read. The layout is attractive, with full colour illustrations which add to the enjoyment of the reading experience. The pictures echo the humour of the text. The double spread illustration of Jack and Eric training, silhouetted in the setting sun, followed by a flock of drongoes, beautifully evokes the enormity of what the boys are trying to do.

This is a funny story highlighting the notions of winning not being everything, of loyalty, and of the great Aussie spirit of ‘giving it a go’. It will appeal to many young readers, especially those who relish a good sporting challenge. Jack and Eric are great characters to cheer for.

This will be enjoyed by children from seven and up.

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