32pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99
Milly loves her little town – in fact it is so nice, they named it twice. But sadly, others don’t find it as attractive and fulfilling and families keep moving to the city. Within just a short time her basketball team comprising the four Chloes and Milly shrinks as both Chloe P and Chloe B leave – they might even have to let the boys play!
But then Milly learns about the refugees who have had to leave their own countries and who have nothing – and she has an idea. Can one letter and a video made by Granny Mac save the town?
This is a unique, charming story about the resourcefulness and resilience of a young girl who sees an opportunity and acts on it. Echoing the plight of many little towns in this vast country as the appeal and perceived opportunities of the cities beckon, Gong Gong could almost be renamed Anytown, Australia and its scenery, so artfully depicted by Tony Flowers will be recognisable everywhere. But not every town has a Milly who really just wants more players for the basketball team but starts a change that will turn empty houses into homes once more and vacant shopfronts into hubs of employment and breathe new life into a community looking for a focus.
With the story echoing those of many places such as Nhill in Victoria, but making a child the protagonist, Phillip Gwynne has put a national issue into the realm of children’s understanding perhaps sparking the imagination of some other child looking to bolster their sports team.
Compelling reading that may start something, particularly as we emerge from lockdown and look for alternatives to crowded city life.