Rocky and Louie
Phil Walleystack & Raewyn Caisley
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Rocky is a star Aussie Rules player and his little brother Louie adores him. Rocky has taught Louie all sorts of footballing skills but more than that, he has taught him about their country and how to engage with it to both use it and protect it. After they made a proper hunting boomerang together, Rocky taught him how to respect the animals and even though they might kill them for food, how to think about where that food comes from. Rocky taught and Louie learned the legends and lessons of the land, forging a strong bond that would ensure that they would endure.
But Rocky has a dream to become more than just a local football star and to do that he must leave. Louie is devastated but Rocky knows that he must go, just as Louie must stay. What could Louie offer him to make sure that Rocky doesn’t forget him or his roots despite the pull and the attractions of the city.
While this is a powerful story about the love and bonds shared between brothers, it has an even stronger message about being connected to our heritage whatever that may be. In this case it is that of Australia’s indigenous people and the lessons Rocky teaches Louie will help the reader understand that deep connection to country that our Aboriginal peoples have, helping them appreciate why they felt so bereft when so many were uprooted ruthlessly from families, events commemorated on National Sorry Day on May 26. The theme of responsibility and respect for what has gone before that has shaped us into who we are now is very strong, but it also opens up the prospect of having to deal with change, with having to be unselfish and let others follow their destiny regardless of the impact on our comfort zone, and accepting and acknowledging that we are who we are because of those around us and we must be the best we can be to honour that and them.
Co-written with Noongar man and emerging elder, Phil Walleystack, Raewyn Caisley (who has already given us the hauntingly beautiful Hello from Nowhere and Something Wonderful ) views this as her legacy with “the power to change our nation”. For so many reasons, she could well be right.