Tuesday 31 October 2023

A Footy Tail

A Footy Tail by Alex Johnson & Gregg Dreise (Allen & Unwin) PB HB RRP $24.99 97817611830316

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Alex Johnson is an NRL star who has played internationally for both Australia and Papua New Guinea. This story is inspired by the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league team.

A fluffle of bunnies play footy but no matter how hard they try they never win. All the other teams are bigger and stronger. They decide to bring in some new players to the team to improve their chances.

The opening sentence creates wonderful visuals and sets up the story. A fluffle of Bunnies play down at the park. The text is written in rhyme and uses great action verbs. They sprint and they tackle from dawn until dark. The problem is introduced in the very first spread. The other teams are just bigger and stronger. It’s tough. So other teams are brought into the story and their strengths are highlighted.

I love how each team’s animal’s trait is their strength. There’s the Bulldogs so mean with their super loud barks. There are teams with sharp teeth – Tigers, Panthers, and Sharks. Children who love rugby league will love that NRL teams are included. One bunny bravely speaks up and then a Crow explains that there’s no rule that says all the players must be bunnies. This shows young readers that things can be discussed. The title is clever – A Footy Tail. It makes me smile as I think of bunny tails.

Gregg Dreise is a gifted artist, storyteller, and musician who is a published Aboriginal author/illustrator. For the cover he has chosen the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league team colours of red and green. The vibrant endpapers are stunning Aboriginal artwork. Dreise has used a vibrant colour palette, and the bunnies are cartoon like. I love that Aboriginal artwork is woven into the illustrations along with the footy team mascots. The illustrations have a Dreamtime feel in certain parts of the story.

This is an Aboriginal picture book for children 4-8 years inspired by the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league team. This book is sure to be popular with children who love footy. It’s a fun way to learn about the different teams in the NRL. The important themes of unity, togetherness, resilience, and teamwork feature strongly in this book.

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