Ubby’s Underdogs by Brenton McKenna
When the pearling industry was at its peak in the 1940s, the streets of Broome were home to those from all walks of life: the Japanese pearl divers, the wealthy English businessmen, and people like Ubby – a young, streetwise Aboriginal girl and her band of ragtag Underdogs.
When the Underdogs first meet Sai Fong, she’s fresh off the boat from China and doesn’t quite get the hectic way of life in Broome. Ubby steps in to save her from being pushed around by Ling, the self-elected boss of the Chinese girls, and she’s welcomed into the Underdogs’ ranks. Being part of a gang means she must defend it, and when the sons of the wealthy pearl merchants who call themselves the Pearl Juniors challenge the Underdogs to a game of Gaelic football, Sai Fong must learn the rules quickly or suffer the shame of defeat. After Sai Fong is pushed to the limits by the Pearl Juniors’ cheating ways, the Underdogs discover that there’s something special about their newest recruit.
Ubby’s Underdogs has to be one of the most original graphic novels I’ve ever read. The skilful blend of Australian history and Asian mythology results in a vivid world where dragons, ancient war machines and magic powers are commonplace. Brenton McKenna both wrote and illustrated this standout graphic novel, and was influenced by his own childhood in Broome and his Malaysian and Aboriginal heritage. The huge cast of colourful characters will have you laughing out loud as they struggle to defend their gang and forge new friendships, all while putting a stop to dark forces.
This first book in a highly original new series is definitely one to check out, and will be devoured by readers aged nine and up.
A scene from Ubby’s Underdogs