Review Blog

Feb 12 2019

Wrestle! by Charlotte Mars, Maya Newell and Gus Skatterbol-James

cover image

Ill. by Tom Jellett. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN 9781760296810
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Families. LGBT. Toys. Mardi Gras. Sydney. What does a parent do when their child takes up a hobby or interest they dislike? In this funny take on a well known family situation, the three authors and the illustrator are able to show a resolution for this perennial source of disharmony, one that involves all members of their family resolving the issue to everyone's satisfaction.
Gus can't wait for Mardi Gras when he and his sister, Rory, get to dress up. This year, Gus wants to dress up as a wrestler. His mums are a little taken aback; they worry that he thinks that this is what it is to be a man, a popular man, a smart man. They offer alternatives but Gus is determined, clutching his wrestling hero dolls. He play wrestles with Rory which ends in tears, his mums again concerned that he is developing some thoughts that they do not like. But that night, Gus dreams of wrestlers wrestling each other to the ground and hurting each other. This is not what he wants to do at all! So he comes up with a resolution, discussing it with his mums and sister, Rory, so that by Mardi Gras they have developed an altogether different style of wrestling and march together at the Mardi Gras with the crowds.
A delightful tale of a boy developing his image of what it is to be male, supported by his parents, to see that there is another side to the idea of wrestling, that it can be done with love and humour, with all the family involved.
Jellett's wonderful illustrations show a warm involved family, full of love and care, discussing and resolving issues, being together. Children will love looking at the details he includes in his pictures, picking out the nods to Sydney, all the people at the Mardi Gras, and the array of toys in the back garden.
Fran Knight

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