This book was such a delight. I enjoyed it much more than I expected. I loved spending ‘time’ with Harris – her voice sounds natural and friendly – perfect for the intended tween/teen audience.
The reason I shared the bio above is because I really feel like through this book – and other work she has done – Harris is doing exactly what it says she is proud to be doing – using her platform to speak out, raise awareness around trolls and online bullying, call out unacceptable behaviour and inspire young women – and I feel kind of proud of her for doing it too.
Harris is clearly an incredible athlete and was already known for her amazing kicking style, and the photo that Michael Willson captured was absolutely perfect. The comments that were made about the photo ranged from annoying to gross to absolutely vile and disgusting. Through out the book we get to know Harris a bit as she shares her story about how she fell in love with footy, the support she has from her family, and how she ended up playing in the AFLW, including what it was like to move from Brisbane to Carlton. Then she steps us through the day that the iconic photo of her was taken, how if felt to start seeing the reactions to it, and why it was important to her to take a stand against it rather than just letting it blow over. I was so impressed with both the openness with which she discusses her feelings now, as well as how she actually dealt with it at the time. I loved that she talks about how important it was for her to stand up to the issue, and why it was important to her, but at the same time she acknowledges that it would have been ok not to. There is a really strong message throughout the book about how hard it is to be in a situation where you are being harassed or bullied, and how important it is to have support and talk to someone about it, and that no one should ever feel pressured to take on trolls the way she did.
On a more personal note, as a parent I really loved seeing the way Harris talked about her family – the way they have supported her from when she was the only girl on the footy team all the way up to now, and how much that has meant to her not only as she has dealt with this particular incident, but ingrowing up and finding her place in the world in general.
I just found it all so thoughtful and clever and compassionate – I would definitely pick this up for kids in the 12 to 15 age range, and I think it will be an excellent resource to have available at schools too.
More than a Kick by Tayla Harris
Source: I received a free copy from Allen & Unwin (Thank you!)
Category: Children’s/YA non fiction (age 12+)
Themes: Social media, trolling, online harassment, feminism, women in sport
Format: Paperback (192 pages)