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Miss Charlotte - the new coach of a children's football team - has some odd methods to prepare them for the big match. She decides to teach them to lose! And to have fun. Incredibly, it seems to work, as the kid who was always useless on the pitch suddenly scores a screamer in practice. But will their hopes of victory be dashed when the ambitious star player decides to join the other team?
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019 | A dynamic slam-dunk of a book in which a boy lost in grief begins to find his feet on the basketball court. Slickly blending stirring verse-form storytelling with ingenious jump-off-the-page comic strip illustrations, this is a poignant, powerful page-turner that will find fans among a broad range of reading levels in the 12+ age group. It's 1988 and Charlie Bell (Chuck to his Granddaddy) feels utterly isolated by grief after losing his dad. And, since he can’t seem to stay out of trouble either, his despairing mom leaves him with Grandma and Granddaddy for the whole hot summer. There Chuck discovers an affinity with basketball through his cousin Roxie, but when a friend from back home says he can help Chuck get hold of a pair of genuine Jordan sneakers at a discount, the ensuing chain of events could land him in serious trouble. Though this is a prequel to the author’s Newbury Medal winning The Crossover, it can be read and relished as a standalone novel (for those who have read The Crossover, Chuck is Josh and Jordan’s dad). This is a joyous parade of poetry that packs incredible emotional depth. The language soars and sings, and the vibrant interspersed comic strips by Dawud Anyabile enhance the immersive experience with panache.
In a nutshell: football-set story, accessible to all readers Jackson Law is a talented footballer, newly signed to the United youth squad. Real life carries on though, and a budding romance with the girl he’s always fancied brings him up against her thuggish ex. Jackson’s got a lot to lose now which lays him open to the lad’s threats and blackmail, but he discovers that his team mates are there to support him on and off the pitch. There’s just the right mix of footballing action and domestic drama and the story unfolds at a pace that will keep all readers turning the pages. An enjoyable and exciting contemporary story. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: great football story, accessible to all readers The story told in Kick Off will be familiar to lots of kids from their daydreams. Jackson is a talented footballer and one day after a game in the park, he’s approached by a scout. This leads to a trial at United and the chance to play with their Under 16s. The Cinderella format is irresistible, but there are challenges for Jackson along the way: he has to learn to control his temper for one thing, and to be a team player. Designed to appeal to reluctant or dyslexic readers, the action is non-stop, short sentences ensuring it’s totally accessible, but the story is still thoroughly satisfying and will leave readers wanting to hear more about Jackson. ~ Andrea Reece
Jud is football mad but never seems to get a chance on the pitch. But when Seaburn football team meet their rivals, Jud finally has the chance to step in as goalie. It's a make-or-break moment - can Jud rise to the challenge? A terrific football story from a master storyteller, set in the post-war period. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
Highly Commended in the UKLA Book Awards 2019 | S E Durrant writes convincingly and movingly about ordinary young people in extraordinary situations, and Running on Empty finds beauty and certainty in an apparently bleak situation. Eleven-year old AJ’s parents both have learning difficulties and he becomes their main carer when his grandfather suddenly dies. It’s a struggle, especially at first when no-one at his new secondary school realises just what AJ has to cope with. His love and tenderness towards his parents is beautifully described, as is the warmth of his extended family and things slowly sort themselves out. Somehow too his grandfather – who loved running as much as AJ does – is never really far away. Without a trace of sentimentality, this ends on a note of hope and happiness that is both believable and uplifting. This is one to recommend to fans of Susin Nielsen and even R J Palacio.
In a nutshell: thrilling, vivid rugby action, history, ghosts Readers who enjoy rugby or any kind of sport will love Gerard Siggins’ Rugby Spirit series with its exciting mix of brilliantly described rugby action and ghost story. Eoin Madden is a very talented player, but he has an extra gift too, he can see and talk to ghosts. Throughout this series, he has met, helped or been helped by ghosts of great rugby players, often solving mysteries in the process. In this latest episode, Eoin has been called up to play for Ireland’s Under 16s no less and amidst the excitement ghosts arrive again and help him avert a potential catastrophe. The rugby scenes are as thrilling to read as ever, the setting and descriptions of Eoin’s home life just as vivid and convincing while the ghostly visitors give it an extra edge. Another winner! ~ Andrea Reece There are more books in this series and readers will also enjoy Tom Palmer’s Rugby Academy series from Barrington Stoke. A Piece of Passion from Editor Helen Carr : Ger Siggins never fails to come up with interesting ghosts to haunt Castlerock, the boarding school Eoin Madden and his gang of rugby-mad friends attend. These spirits and their back-stories – Rugby Runner’s ghost, William Webb-Ellis is credited as the creator of the game of rugby! – always intrigue, but I also love the books because of Ger’s skill in describing the ups and downs of Eoin’s life, both on and off the rugby pitch. Friends and rivals, teachers and coaches are so well drawn, and I really enjoy the matter-of-fact way Eoin deals with everything life throws at him, from captaining the junior cup team to helping ghosts to foil crimes or right old wrongs.
In a nutshell: ghosts and football in an exciting, thought-provoking story Tom Palmer’s Defenders series cleverly mixes ghost stories and football and uses past events to throw light on our world. Seth’s mum is waiting to hear if she’s clear of the cancer she’s been treated for and the two are having a weekend in Cornwall to escape the pressure. It’s a peaceful place but with his ghost sight Seth is aware of a violent incident that took place there thousands of years ago and which still resonates. That was born out of suspicion and mistrust of new arrivals, and when he meets two young Syrian refugees now living in the town, Seth realises what needs to change. The story will grip young readers from start to finish, and make them think about their own place in the world. In Barrington Stoke style, it’s accessible to all readers. ~ Andrea Reece The Defenders is a spooky new series that combines the thrills of football, history and supernatural sleuthing and marks Tom’s continuing exploration of his passions. He says: “For years I’ve written about my obsessions with football and rugby. Now I am obsessed with history. One thing I always say to children who ask me for advice on becoming an author, is to write about what they are passionate about. That’s what I’m doing now.” Barrington Stoke is the foremost publisher of dyslexia friendly books and those for reluctant readers. Here on Lovereading4kids we are constantly selecting new titles and refreshing our special dyslexia friendly category. Click here to view our current selection which is broken down by age range.
Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2019 | Winner of the Branford Boase Award 2018 | Like lots of kids in this country, Budi lives for football, training with his friends whenever he can, following his team with a passion and dreaming about playing at the top level. But Budi lives in Jakarta and works ten hours a day making the football boots his sporting heroes wear, and earning just pennies for doing it. The descriptions of his working conditions will shock readers, but Budi’s acceptance of them as inevitable is almost more upsetting. Lively, funny, always optimistic, Budi will win readers’ hearts and his positivity ensures the book remains an accessible page-turner even as his life gets very bleak indeed. A vividly told story that has lots to say about the world, and the importance of hope and fate, represented here by Real Madrid.
In a nutshell: friendship, growing up and superheroes on skates! Roller derby, a contact sport played by teams, isn’t very well known in the UK but boy, it looks great fun in Victoria Jamieson’s graphic novel. A rough-and-tumble sport, unusually it is mostly played by girls; Astrid is hooked first game she sees, and signs up to train at summer camp. Her best friend, who prefers ballet, can’t understand this new passion and the two grow apart. In her efforts to become a real roller girl like her hero Rainbow Bite, Astrid gets knocked down countless times, but she always gets up again. She makes a new friend, and over the course of this roller skating summer discovers lots about independence and working out who you are. This is as much about friendship as roller skating, and both are depicted brilliantly in Jamieson’s bright, action-packed cartoon strips. Terrific! ~ Andrea Reece
Award-winning Michael Morpurgo weaves a charming and witty story around sport and history as they have come together in the recent twin triumphs of the City of Leicester with the discovery of the remains of King Richard III in a car park and Leicester City football club winning the 2016 Premier League. The link between the two? A family of foxes! When Daddy Fox finds the ghost of the king and helps to release him from an unseemly grave he is granted one royal wish. What will it be? As a mad-keen footballing family the Foxes have one over-riding wish; that Leicester City can go top of the League. Can the King do it? You bet he can! Michael Foreman captures the spirit of this entertaining adventure perfectly. ~ Julia Eccleshare Nick Lake at HarperCollins Children’s Books said “Michael is the master, and The Fox and the Ghost King has all the hallmarks of his inimitable storytelling: it’s a ghost story, a fairy tale, and a classic animal adventure, all rolled into one timeless magic spell”
May 2017 Debut of the Month | There aren’t enough good football books and this is definitely a good one even though it’s also very silly. Tim and his family move to the country when his dad decides to become a farmer. Unfortunately farming is harder than it looks, and things don’t go at all well. Bankruptcy is looming when Tim persuades his dad to take in a pack of llamas. For various unlikely reasons, the llamas turn out to be footballing geniuses, the Ronaldos and Messis of the animal world, and are soon competing at a very high level. Silly, and as satisfying as stories of unlikely champions always are, the book is also full of quality descriptions of the footballing action as Llama United progress up the league. As always, Sarah Horne’s inky illustrations add to the fun. Supporters of Llama United will also enjoy The Mighty Dynamo by Kieran Crowley.
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