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My Old Man He Played Rugby by Peter Millett


Everybody knows the tune and will quickly catch on in this fun conversion to the rugby field.


A celebration of dad of all shapes and sizes, My Old Man He Played Rugby, is a humorous new version of the well-known traditional rhyme This Old Man.


Included within the cover of the book is a CD of the song, sung by acclaimed singer and actor Jay Laga’aia.


Millett has done a fine job of matching the player’s positions to the words of the story, and keeping the same rhythm and flow of the original.


Canterbury’s Jenny Cooper, prolific illustrator of many cherished Kiwi books, perfectly encapsulates the rugby field with her illustrations. There are cheeky – quite literally – jokes hidden within the page that will amuse even the youngest readers. While the two teams are clearly wearing jerseys to match our national team and our biggest rival – Australia – Cooper has ensured the game is entirely one-sided. However, Australian fans might find the half-back’s antics a little on the nose.

The sole female on the field is based on Europe’s first professional female rugby union referee – Joy Neville. Cooper has depicted her as a young girl with pigtails. The book ends at number ten, which is a shame. It’s often hard to find books that extend children’s knowledge beyond the customary first ten numbers. This was the perfect opportunity to take it further, but it wasn’t realised.


However, the CD does include a track of the music so the possibility for clever kids to create their own verses for the missing positions is there.


A fun, book that will have both parents and children singing along before they know it. Be prepared to listen to it many, many times.


Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser

Scholastic, RRP $19.99

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