Review Blog

May 13 2012

Two mates by Melanie Prewett

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Two mates by Melanie Prewett
Ill. by Maggie Prewett. Magabala Books, 2012. ISBN 9781921248450.
(Ages: 6+) Warmly recommended. Picture book.  Aboriginal themes. Disability. A colourful picture book which shows two friends playing together is not new, but this story has a different setting and overlay that will make it instantly endearing to all who pick it up. The families live in Broome, and the two boys' life together means a day full of fishing, swimming and collecting bush tucker which they cook together on coals. Jack and Raf do all sorts of things and this little book is brim full of their adventures and excursions. The two boys could be anywhere, playing together, sharing their company and food, their families and environment but the setting makes it intensely rich for other readers.
The marvellous country side is brought to life through the descriptions of their days, and the reader incidentally learns a great deal of information about Broome and the surroundings as well as the lifestyles of those who live there.
It is only at the end of the book that Raf's disability is revealed through a drawing of the two boys, and this gives a touch of surprise at the physical nature of their activities - there is no thought that Raf's disability will hold them back. A brief explanation of spina bifida is given and a double page spread of the families to which the boys belong ends the book. For a class wanting a great read to introduce a topic on disability, or about Broome, or a range of ideas about Indigenous Australia, then this book will serve the class well, bringing a different perspective on friendship and togetherness.
Fran Knight

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