Wrestle!

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Maya Newell, Charlotte Mars and Gus Skatterbol-James (authors), and Tom Jellett (illustrator), Wrestle! Allen & Unwin, February 2019, 32 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760296810

Gus is looking forward to marching in the annual mardi gras with his mums and his little sister Rory. And this year he wants to go as a wrestler. In fact Gus has a passion for wrestling. This is a worry to his mums, Jen and Jamie. They are worried that he might start thinking wrestling is the way to become a good man, a popular man, or a smart man. Once Rory is hurt while learning to wrestle with Gus, there is a ban on wrestling in the family. What to do? How can Gus’s passion survive in a family that values diversity and positive outcomes for everyone?

You will have to read this brightly illustrated story with simple text in bold print on each full coloured page. The illustrations have an infectiously joyful quality throughout. This might become one of those books that marks a moment beyond the same-sex marriage debate for socially progressive concerns absorbing the Australian psyche. One big plus for the book is that Gus himself (now 17) is one of the authors. Recommended for children 5 to 10 years old.

Reviewed by Kevin Brophy

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