Going to the Footy by Debbie Coombes

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Magabala Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781925936964.
(Ages: 1-4) Recommended. Themes: Football, Transport/Vehicles. Tiwi author and artist Debbie Coombes uses textured Tiwi art to illustrate Australian modes of travelling to the footy. This is a beautiful book for early childhood with a rich, earthy colour palate and Australian vocabulary, particularly meaningful for Tiwi kids. The large text is accessible and stands out on a bright background and the illustrations are exquisitely detailed but simple. The story starts, 'Everyone is going to the footy' and then we see people travelling off using different modes of transport; 'On a plane. On a barge. In a tinny'. The addition of safety wear (life jackets, helmets and seatbelts) on each vehicle is a nice touch and adds to the contemporary nature of the book, as do the splashes of bright colour. The ending is a little abrupt and doesn't come back to the going to the football idea; perhaps an added final page of a football scene would have helped. The information about the author in the back of the book says how travelling to the football is a huge part of contemporary Tiwi life. Coombes has perfectly combined traditional painting techniques learned from her grandfather with a joyous celebration of modern Tiwi life. It will also find a special place with many families around Australia who have fond memories of weekends spent heading off to the football or for who that is a part of their weekly experience.
Nicole Nelson