Review Blog

Apr 04 2012

Marngrook : A long ago story of Aussie Rules Football by Titta Secombe and Grace Fielding

cover image

Magabala Books, 2012. ISBN 9781921248443.
(Ages: 6+). Warmly recommended. Aboriginal stories. Australian Rules Football. I was initially surprised to receive another book detailing the Aboriginal origins of Australian Rules Football but upon reading this one found that the two books I have recently read fit well together.
Marngrook, subtitled, A long ago story of Aussie Rules Football, outlines the story of Wawi, who walking in the bush around the Grampians in Western Victoria, comes across a possum. Killing it with his boomerang, he skins it and uses the meat for a meal for his family. After eating, he carefully uses a sinew from a kangaroo tail, sewing up the possum skin into a roundish ball, stuffing it with emu feathers. When the last hole is sewn up, the shape resembles an emu egg, and the children run off playing with it, practicing their kicking and having fun despite their mother's call to collect wood.
This is a fascinating story of how the football came to be, and blends well with the picture book, Kick it to me by Neridah McMullin recently published by One Day Hill. This story tells the tale of Tom Wills, who growing up in Western Victoria played the game of marn-grook with his Aboriginal friends, later being able to suggest it as a new Australian sport.
The two stories sit well together, one from an Aboriginal perspective, and one from a European perspective, but both telling the tale of how Aussie Rules came to be, a subject dear to the hearts of many Australians, regardless of their origin.
In this book, Marngrook, the tale also shows Aboriginal family life, the skills of the hunter, the environment in which they live and their use of it as a place for food, clothing, weapons and playthings. Tucked within the story children reading it will also have a sense of the close knit community of Aboriginal people and their strong association with the land around them.
The naive painting style suits the book as it includes dots and traditional Aboriginal painting styles, not only telling the story through the illustrations, but also detailing the life and times of the people in the area.
Author, Titta Secpmbe is a descendant of the people who lived around the Grampians in Western Victoria, the Gunditj-marra-Jard-wa, and was brought up hearing this story, while illustrator, Grace Fielding grew up at the Wandering Mission near Perth and has won awards for her children's book illustrations.
Fran Knight

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