Saved!!! by Lydia Williams

cover image

Illus. by Lucinda Gifford. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760524708.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Sport, Outback, Australian animals, Aboriginal themes, Persistence, Determination, Self belief. Multi awarded goal keeper for the Australian Women's Soccer Team, Lydia Williams encourages young Australians to be involved in sport. She borrows on her childhood where she and her family moved about with their tent, camping in the outback, beautifully rendered here with all its sparse red glory. Against this very recognisable backdrop Lydia imagines the animals are her friends, and in Saved!!!, uses them as a platform for playing different sports until she finds one that she both likes and is successful at.
Younger children will recognise the repetitive phrases when Lydia plays a sport, reading 'This isn't the sport for me' followed by the reason that she has been beaten. But not to be outdone, she keeps on trying.
First she plays high jump with a kangaroo, but the roo can jump much higher than she, next she tries running, but the emu she choses to race speeds past her, then she teams herself against a koala in catching a football, but the koala climbs up her back and catches it before she can.
Just when Lydia goes into her tent doing up the zip, she hears the kangaroo ask about trying soccer. Intrigued Lydia looks at the round ball, and the animals divide into two teams. Readers will love seeing the animals all playing soccer displaying their unique skills, while during the game, Lydia finds her best skill is between the goal post as a goal keeper.
A wonderfully positive book for Indigenous and non Indigenous kids alike, Lydia's commitment to finding a sport is empowering for all those who find some sports out of their reach, while endeavouring to find one that suits them shows courage and determination. Accompanied by humorous pencil and watercolour illustrations, readers will enjoy watching the various animals play the sport at which they excel, while eager eyes will note the variety of animals and flora portrayed and become aware of some of the animals' attributes.
Fran Knight