Tag Archives: Michael Hyde

Girls Change the Game – Gabrielle Gloury/Michael Hyde

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Ford St Publishing

April 2020

ISBN: 9781925804492

RRP: $14.99

Although the women’s version of Aussie Rules has been around since the early 20th century with regular competitions and state leagues being established over the years it wasn’t until 2017 that women’s AFL first became professionalised at a national level. Now with more 2 million viewers/followers, the game has been growing in leaps and bounds attracting much attention both nationally and worldwide.

Ok, I admit it. I grew up in Sydney, right in the middle of Dragons territory back in our club’s glory days. My friends and I played regular games of footy before school and at break times (I still have a scar on my knee from a tackle gone wrong one dewy morning!). So really, I didn’t even know AFL existed until I was an adult. Truthfully, I still don’t completely ‘get it’, however, I can very much appreciate the athleticism and skill of the women who play it. Certainly, it is very exciting to see now the focus on these sporting stars and the dedicated following they have garnered.

What better way then to encourage young girls to take up the game than a fun book with a twist! Kids love ‘choose your own ending’ books, that’s a given. Throw into that mix the excitement of a new club taking up their first serious challenge against a very competitive team and you’ve got a winner in all senses. The narrative has a quick pace and is an accessible read for even those students who are not strong readers and even those who are not die-hard footy fans will find the format appealing. With eight different possible endings, it’s a book to which kids can return over and over.

I give this book a high recommendation for kids from around Year 4 upwards, whether fans of the game or not, indeed whether they are fans of sport or not! A good fun read which they will find hugely enjoyable all round.

Footy Dreaming – Michael Hyde

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Ford St Publishing

May 2015

186 p. RRP: $17.99

ISBN: 9781925000993

Like so many other youngsters around the country, Noah and Ben live for their footy. They are both completely focussed on being the best players they can be in their provincial footy teams but also share a common goal: to be selected for the Bushrangers and go on to play the big game at the MCG. They are both prepared to put in the hard yards to achieve this by being rigorous with their training and skilling and always giving their best effort. Despite their similarities, their cautious friendship is marred by division. Noah comes from a solid and loving Aboriginal family, grounded in their kinship and supportive of each other and their culture. Noah plays for the Mavericks: a successful team who work as a team under the guidance of an experienced and wise coach. Ben, on the other hand, has only his dad and sister and plays for the Kookaburras (because he is made to follow the family tradition of doing so). The Kookaburras are a sloppy outfit with prejudices and favouritism rife in its ranks. It has not ever had a good name in the game.

Michael Hyde achieves a wonderfully realistic and utterly believable cast of characters, each with their own voice as he explores this complex small town scenario. The boys are drawn together despite their team rivalry through not only their shared goal but also their growing understanding of being in the other’s shoes – or footy boots.

With the kind of dramas one would expect in everyday Australian life such as death of a relative, teenagers struggling to find their own identity, dealing with racism and prejudices, bullying, establishing relationships with mates or girls, Hyde presents us with a view of this sport, which often verges on a fervent religion, as well as life outside the big city that gives real insight into these young players and their hurdles and their community.

If you have not yet found the right book for a young person in your readership clientele, this might well be the one that flicks the magic switch.

Both male and female characters are strong and resonant providing appeal to both boys and girls. The plot is well constructed and the important issues of racism, prejudice and bullying are handled deftly and with sensitivity.

Highly recommended for readers from around 12 up.