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Underground (GN)

Marsupial Outlaws and Other Rebels of Australias War in Vietna

Mirranda Burton

$29.99

Paperback

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Allen & Unwin Children's Books
03 August 2021
NOTABLE BOOK: 2022 CBCA Book of the Year, Eve Pownall Award

Why would a wombat be registered for war?

It's 1965, and an old Tattersalls barrel starts rolling marbles to randomly conscript young Australian men to fight in the war in Vietnam. Melbourne housewife Jean McLean is outraged, as are her artist friends Clif and Marlene Pugh, who live in the country with their wombat, Hooper.

Determined to wreck the system, Jean forms the Save Our Sons movement's Victorian branch, and she and her supporters take to the streets to protest. Meanwhile, in the small country town of Katunga, Bill Cantwell joins the Australian Army, and in Saigon, young Mai Ho is writing letters to South Vietnamese soldiers from her school desk. And when Hooper's call-up papers arrive, he mysteriously goes underground...

As these stories intersect in unexpected ways and destinies entwine, a new world gradually emerges - a world in which bridges of understanding make more sense than war. This stunning graphic novel, full of empathy, courage and resistance, is based on true events.

'Every drawing reflects a Vietnamese history era in which I grew up and witnessed the war. I cannot thank you enough for this memory.' MAI HO

'I wish I had this growing up. It's incredibly informative. Stories like this are severely lacking, and for an Australian audience, I think it will be revelatory.' MATT HUYNH
By:  
Imprint:   Allen & Unwin Children's Books
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 270mm,  Width: 180mm, 
Weight:   966g
ISBN:   9781760631475
ISBN 10:   1760631477
Pages:   272
Publication Date:  
Recommended Age:   From 14 to 99 years
Audience:   General/trade ,  Young adult ,  ELT Advanced ,  Preschool (0-5)
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Mirranda Burton was born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1973. She became a printmaker at the age of ten, a dedicated marimba player in her teens, and a Super 8 stop motion filmmaker at 21. She graduated from the North Adelaide School of Art in South Australia in 1995 with an Advanced Diploma, and in 2004 finished a Bachelor of Multimedia Design at Swinburne University in Melbourne. Working for many years in commercial and independent animation and as a visual artist was the catalyst for making graphic novels, and in 2011 her first book, Hidden, was published by Black Pepper Publishing. Hidden was also released in French under the title Caches by La Boite a Bulles. In 2011 Mirranda became artist in residence for two years at Dunmoochin in Australian artist Clifton Pugh's former studio. During this residency she also learned of the Pughs' wombat, who was registered for military service in Vietnam in 1972, which started a long investigation into Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War, resulting in her graphic novel Underground: Marsupial Outlaws and Other Rebels of Australia's War in Vietnam. The book was completed in a little shack in bushland north-east of Melbourne shared with a number of recalcitrant wombat tenants under the floorboards. In her spare time Mirranda reads, finds new spaces to grow plants, and tries to occasionally practise her marimba.

Reviews for Underground (GN): Marsupial Outlaws and Other Rebels of Australias War in Vietna

'Published to coincide with the 50-year anniversary of the Australian moratorium marches, Mirranda Burton's epic graphic novel...is a social justice story about the Vietnam War peace movement that, half a century on, has a mournful contemporary resonance. There's no irony deficiency in Underground and Burton mines the embarrassment of ironic riches, with bold black-and-white illustrations peppered with vibrant reportage. Prime example: Once there was a munitions factory in the city of Maribyrnong in Melbourne. They supplied the military during World War Two. The factory closed and in 1949 it became a migrant hostel, welcoming refugees of war until the 1980s. In 1983 it became a detention centre for asylum seekers. It closed in January 2019, the detainees transferred to other locations for indefinite imprisonment.' Sydney Arts Guide 'Will particularly appeal to reluctant readers who enjoy true stories.' Lamont Books 'A brilliant book that opened my eyes...wrapped in a lovely metaphor about wombats that gave the story a bold Australian flavour. Surprisingly informative...just as good as [Maus by Art Spiegelman]...the artwork is so poignant. I found the illustrations clever and harrowing. Just brilliant - couldn't put it down. Would recommend this book to anyone: its topic is important, the artwork is fabulous and the story is engaging.' 5 STARS, Upside-Down Books


  • Long-listed for ALIA Notable Australian Graphic Novels List 2022 (Australia)
  • Long-listed for Eve Pownall Award 2022 (Australia)
  • Long-listed for General Adult Graphic Novel category 2021 (Australia)
  • Short-listed for ALIA Notable Australian Graphic Novels List 2022 (Australia)
  • Short-listed for CBCA Awards 2022 (Australia)
  • Short-listed for General Adult Graphic Novel category 2021 (Australia)

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