Matty’s Comeback Review

Title: Matty’s Comeback
Author: Anita Heiss
Publisher: Scholastic
Readership: Junior Fiction
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: ★★★★
RRP: $9.99

I received a copy of Matty’s Comeback from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

‘Go, Matty! Go!’ Matty’s mum screams at the top of her lungs from the back of the grandstand. ‘Carn, Matty, run like the wind!’

Matty scores his second try of the day. He has shone since they moved him from centre to fullback. The South Eastern Seagulls are playing the Redfern Razorbacks and they have been competition rivals forever. They need to win this game to get into the semi-finals.

Matty loves rugby, and is the South Sydney Rabbitohs No 1 fan. He’s also the star scorer in his own local team and knows he can help his team to the semi-finals and beyond.

Funny, fresh, fantastic new fiction from award-winning author Anita Heiss.

Continuing on my Anita Heiss journey, I was very interested to try some of her younger fiction, too (given the age group of students I teacher) and stumbled across Matty’s Comeback in Scholastic’s catalogue.

This book is about Matty, who lives in Sydney with his family and is obsessed with the South Sydney Rabbitohs. He dreams of making it big and eventually playing for the Rabbitohs when he’s older, and for now works hard to remain the top scorer in his local football team. This includes helping them make the finals – until things don’t quite go to plan and Matty has to learn to accept help from the people who love him the most.

Like many of the other books and stories I’ve read by Anita Heiss, this one is full of warm, funny characters who are easily relatable. Yes, they are Indigenous, and their culture plays a huge part in shaping who they are, but they’re also just like everyone else.

Matty is a massive Rabbitohs fan – and, being a Melbournian, I learnt a thing or two about rugby in this book – it consumes him on a daily basis. This is something that’s fostered by his family, who are also huge fans of the game and the team. Matty has dreams to one day play professionally and works hard in his local footy team to be the best player he can be. Which is great, until an injury takes him out of the team at a critical time, and Matty has to learn how to cope with the disappointment that brings him, and how to accept help from his friends and family as they support him through that disappointment.

The family dynamics are great – Matty and his sister, Nita, don’t always see eye-to-eye on everything, but when push comes to shove, the two are very dedicated to one another. Their parents are a positive and strong influence in their life, but so are the realities of day-to-day living: spending quality time with the kids, being aware of how they spend money and financial responsibility as well as their cultural history.

Heiss has a fantastic was of highlighting the very important parts of Indigenous culture and history in books that are easily accessible, funny and smart for kids. They don’t shy away from the every day things characters face, and they do it with heart and humour and it was a delightful book to read.

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