High Five to the Boys: A Celebration of Ace Australian Men
Random House Australia, 2018
2018., hbk., RRP $A29.99
Despite Australia’s relatively short history, there have been some amazing men emerge from the ranks who have contributed so much to this nation and the world. In this fabulous companion volume to Shout Out to the Girls, young readers can not only learn the stories of familiar names like Adam Goodes, Andy Griffiths, Jonathan Thurston and Hamish and Andy but they can also discover less familiar people like Vincent Lingiari, Weary Dunlop and Mei Quong Tart. Even Australia’s current Local Hero Eddie Woo is featured, making this a celebration of contemporary Australians as much as it acknowledges the accomplishments of those who have gone before.
As in Shout Out to the Girls. it is not just the story of the “poster boy” that is told, but also an acknowledgement to all the others in a similar field who have contributed and continue to do so, but just not with such a high profile. For example, Hugh Jackman is featured but there is a high five to the “chameleon performers who entertain us and show us others’ lives and worlds.” There is an atmosphere of inclusivity that recognises that there are many Hugh Jackmans, Mick Fannings and Troye Sivans but not each can have a place unless the book were to be E-N-O-R-M-O-U-S. Within those credits the biographer has picked out an essential element of character that goes beyond the personal prowess in sport, acting, music or whatever so that it speaks to a wider audience. For example, while Mick Fanning is highlighted, it’s not for his surfing achievements but as an example of “the resilient guys who achieve awesome physical feats and get back on their boards after being knocked off”. Jonathan Thurston exemplifies “the men who wear their colours with pride and use their renown to change the world for the better.”
Whoever they are and whatever their story, each has a clear one-page bio and a portrait by one of Australia’s leading illustrators, themselves all men whose work should be celebrated, making this a book that will attract the young reader out of interest rather than just being a resource for “Investigate the life of a famous Australian”. It has its place as a kickstart for that sort of inquiry as young researchers are led to learn more about their chosen hero, but more importantly it will affirm and inspire. While there may be many who aspire to be the next YouTube sensation like Troye Sivan, perhaps there will be another Jordan Nguyen who has developed a mind-controlled wheelchair or David McAllister who was born to dance and didn’t let gender stereotyping stand in his way.
This is an exuberant, uplifting book that needs to be in every library collection and promoted so our boys can find new role models, new directions and even new dreams.
As with Shout Out to the Girls, all royalties are donated to The Smith Family.