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All to Play For

"A stirring novella about following your dreams and finding hope."

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LoveReading4Kids Says

LoveReading4Kids Says

Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2023 ages 7-10

Navigating family tragedy and finding the freedom to follow your dreams, Eve Ainsworth’s All to Play For is a perfectly-pitched, top of the league triumph for readers who enjoy the thrilling possibilities of dreaming big through stories rooted in real-life.

Lewis’ “happy place” is the narrow strip of grass at the back of his estate. Here he can “pretend to be somebody else”, like his football hero scoring a winner for England at Wembley. Lewis needs this escape because real life is tough. His family don’t have much money and, “even if she could afford it, Mum would never let him play football. Not after what happened to his dad”. Tragically, Lewis’ father died when his weak heart failed during a match, and his mum blames the beautiful game for taking her beautiful husband.

After being spotted by Ash, a scout for his dad’s former team, Lewis is faced with a dilemma - training with the club would mean disobeying Mum, so he tries to convince her to let him join.

Tackling grief and social inequalities with sensitivity, All to Play For is a rewarding read, with all the heart-in-your-mouth tension of a penalty shoot-out. Readers will be on the edge of their seats willing Lewis to succeed, willing his mum to support his dream. Published by Barrington Stoke, this is especially ideal for reluctant readers, with satisfying short chapters and dyslexia-friendly paper.

Joanne Owen

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