Marcus Bontempelli knows a lot about courage. He’s been the captain of the Western Bulldogs for three years, leading his team through the highs and lows of each and every season. Now he’s sharing those lessons on courage and bravery with a different audience via his latest kid’s tale — Little Bont’s Brave Play.

    Intertwining themes of courage and family, Little Bont’s Brave Play is Bontempelli’s delightful second foray into children’s literature thanks to Affirm Press. The star athlete takes this platform seriously, reflecting that the books have been a great opportunity to give back and be a role model.

    ‘Being a footballer, you’ve got a certain responsibility, a capacity, to influence the next generation,’ Bontempelli says. 

    ‘The idea of being able to be a role model for little ones out there is really appealing.’

    His latest Little Bont tale sees the titular character headed to his beloved Nonna’s for lunch after a rough day on the footy field. Hopeful for a bit of cheer, things turn pear-shaped when a dessert mishap means Little Bont may have to conquer his fear of Nonna’s spooky cellar to save the day.

    His collaborators from debut book Little Bont and the Big Secret return for this new story; with illustrator Megan Higgin’s gorgeous drawings bringing vibrancy to the wholesome narrative of co-authors Bontempelli and Fiona Harris. Bontempelli is full of praise for both.

    ‘Megan, her illustrations really speak for themselves, we didn’t really even need to look anywhere else,’ he reflects.

    ‘And when I caught up with Fiona for the first time, she totally understood where I was coming from. She really got the stories and the themes that I was trying to relay, and she really understood the family connection side of things.’

    Bontempelli’s family are a clear inspiration — his Nanna and Nonna are central characters in each of the tales, and each have a special acknowledgement featured in the endpapers of their respective books. They help shape the messages of bravery and confidence delivered in his stories.

    ‘I was a bit of a late bloomer; it took me a little while to really discover my self-confidence. As a child that can sort of influence or knock you around, and I think that was an important thing for us to try and draw out,’ he says. 

    ‘So, you know, it’s about courage. It’s about self-confidence. It’s about finding out a little bit about yourself. And that process can be sometimes tough to go through as a little one. But with a strong attitude, with a strong family, a supportive network — you can overcome those fears.’

    Whilst there are no real plans to do a third in the series right now, Bontempelli is certainly open to the idea, seeing the books as a way to leave a deeper legacy, long after football.

    ‘Hopefully I can still keep being a role model and influencing kids, even after I’m finished football.’ 

    Little Bont’s Brave Play is available for purchase at bookstores now!

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