Review: Breakfast Club Adventures: The Beast Beyond the Fence by Marcus Rashford and Alex Falase-Koya, illustrated by Marta Kissi

Cover image by Marta Kissi, published by Macmillan, 2022

With the football World Cup fast approaching I thought it was about time to extract the first Breakfast Club Adventure from my TBR stack and explore this new twist on the child detective genre. I have to say that I have great admiration for the efforts that Marcus Rashford has gone to in order to improve the life chances of young people, and this latest initiative supported by the National Literacy Trust, is thoughtfully designed to encourage reading for pleasure. It is clear that children who might not naturally be drawn to reading have been considered carefully; the text is in a large, bold font with extra line-spacing; the language is straightforward and the illustrations throughout the book by Marta Kissi are full of humour and warmth.

The story itself, which is co-written by Alex Falase-Koya is one to which many young readers will relate. The school setting will be familiar and the characters that our main protagonist Marcus hangs out with at breakfast club present the opportunity for many children to see themselves reflected in a book. Marcus is a thoroughly likeable character, clearly popular amongst his peers, polite to adults and with a sense of adventure which is demonstrated in his response to the mysterious invitation to join the secret society of Breakfast Club Investigators. Their subsequent amateur detective work to solve the mystery of the monster beyond the school fence balances tension with humour and reaches a satisfying denouement. The sub-plot around Marcus worrying about his “lost touch” on the football field and missing his cousin who is away in the US on a football scholarship fleshes out his character, making him someone that readers will empathise with and root for, in this and hopefully subsequent adventures.

I very rarely review books written by celebrities as I feel that they already receive sufficient publicity and do not require the recommendation of an amateur blogger. I have made an exception in this case because not only has Marcus Rashford fully credited his co-writer but he is also trying to make a difference. In my current day job as a health librarian, it is plain to me that literacy levels have a considerable impact on an individual’s health outcomes and I am happy to promote this initiative, seeking to enhance literacy levels. I highly recommend this book with its positive messages of friendship, family and teamwork as a great choice for boys and girls of 8+. I will be donating my copy to my former primary school library where I am sure that it will appeal to many children in Key Stage 2.

Review: The Mummy’s Curse by M.A. Bennett, illustrated by David Dean

Cover illustration by David Dean, published by Welbeck Flame

A time-travel adventure so enthralling that the hours will appear to stand still as you read; this second Butterfly Club adventure is not to be missed!

I must start this review by admitting that I have not read the first Butterfly Club adventure, The Ship of Doom (which I plan to remedy very soon) but this in no way impacted on my enjoyment of The Mummy’s Curse, which contained all the elements that I have sought in stories since I was in the readership age for this new MG novel. The blend of actual historical details with a brilliantly imagined time travel scenario and writing that flows like the River Nile, carrying the reader along effortlessly, conspired to ensure that this book was an absolute pleasure to read.

The three child protagonists, Luna, Konstantin and Aidan are all children in the Victorian era and members of The Butterfly Club, a secret organisation which meets weekly in a hidden chamber at the Greenwich Royal Observatory. There, they use a time train invented by H G Wells to travel forward in time and collect artefacts which will speed up the progress of human invention, hence their label as “the time thieves”. In The Mummy’s Curse, the time thieves are sent from 1894 to November 1922, in the company of medical doctor turned detective novelist, Arthur Conan Doyle. Their mission is to ensure that of the multitude of archaeologists seeking the tomb of Tutankhamen, the British team led by Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter is successful, and to ensure that whatever is discovered is claimed for The British Museum.

The way that M.A. Bennett combines the actual historical facts and fleshes out real personalities from history is astonishingly skilful. As a reader I was utterly transported to the dry, gritty heat of The Valley of the Kings and could sense the delight of the famous writer as he uses his skill with the written word to instigate the rumour of the curse of King Tut and achieve his goal. The fictional children are totally believable, each acting in ways which appear totally natural given their backgrounds. I particularly loved the elegant and honourable Prussian character Konstantin who arrives in 1922 with no knowledge of the role of many of his countrymen in WWI. He is horribly insulted and ostracised by Lord Carnarvon but uses this experience to empathise with and build a supportive friendship with the Egyptian tea boy, Abdel, who plays a heroic role in the fictional and real story. Another aspect of this story that I adored was the dash of humour injected by the constant enquiries about the author’s motive in killing off Sherlock Holmes; no matter which era Arthur Conan Doyle happened to find himself in. I found this to be both amusing but also interesting given the nature of Ancient Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife.

I will not discuss any more plot details as I would not wish to ruin anyone’s enjoyment of the way this story unfolds. Suffice to say that I found it utterly satisfying and I know that I would have loved to read this at the age of nine or ten. The juxtaposition of Victorian attitudes to plundering the cultural and economic capital of other nations, with the determination of a newly independent nation to retain their own cultural artefacts is presented in a way that will encourage young readers to debate these issues and could lead to some interesting classroom discussions. I whole-heartedly recommend The Mummy’s Curse to all primary school and secondary school librarians, I think this is a book that will engage readers from nine to early teens. I should also mention that there are some lovely greyscale illustrations by David Dean, within the chapters. I especially appreciated the hieroglyphics during a brilliantly tense escape room episode!

If you enjoy The Mummy’s Curse as much as I did, there is a third book in the series due in April 2023, The Mona Lisa Mystery, and you will find a short extract at the end of this book!

I would like to thank Antonia Wilkinson and Welbeck Flame for sending me a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review: The Little Match Girl Strikes Back written by Emma Carroll, illustrated by Lauren Child

Cover image by Lauren Child, published by Simon & Schuster,
October 2022

Anyone who has followed my blog, or followed me on Twitter for any length of time will know that I am a huge fan of Emma Carroll’s writing. I also spent many hours reading Lauren Child’s picture books, chapter books and MG series with my youngest, so I was obviously going to purchase a copy of The Little Match Girl Strikes Back with the greatest expectation of enjoyment. It genuinely exceeded my expectations! I literally could not put it down until I had devoured the entire story, this is one of the finest collaborations between writer and illustrator that I have seen and I am so delighted that it renders Emma Carroll’s extraordinary brand of historical fiction into a format enjoyable for a slightly younger age group. This re-imagining of the classic fairy tale is perfectly pitched for readers of 7/8+ with short, pacey chapters; lots of white space between the text and those “striking” illustrations!

As you would expect from this author, the story is recounted in the first person by Bridie Sweeney, a young girl living in poverty with her mother and younger brother Fergal in the East End of London in the Victorian era. From her opening statement you immediately get the impression that Bridie has a spark of rebellion and a desire to improve the situation in which her family exists. She is fully aware of the injustice in the dangerous and exploitative working conditions that her mam and the other female workers at the Bryant & May match factory have to toil under. It does not shy away from the direct impact that working with white phosphorus had on the workers’ health and the way that this inconvenient fact was ignored by the factory owners. The research that has gone into this narrative is worn lightly, the tale lays out the stark contrast between rich and poor and the daily grind for survival in an environment where the poorest appear to have very little agency to improve their lives.

Based on actual historical events, this story combines elements of fairytale into Bridie’s story with stunning effect. The contribution of Lauren Child’s distinctive illustrations beautifully highlights the power of one bright spark to illuminate a dark world. Bridie’s flaming red hair stands out on every black and white spread, and scattered throughout the text are red-tipped matches or red flames as the smouldering embers of resentment flare into protests and strikes. I don’t want to give away the ending or too much of the plot, but will simply say that this would make a fantastically inspiring present for any child of 7 and above. I can imagine that it will be greatly loved in primary schools and I hope that it will be received by many children in their Christmas stockings and perhaps shared as a family story. As we appear to be plunging back into glaring economic inequality, its empowering message will perhaps bring some hope for better times.

2022 Halloween Recommendations

image created using Canva

As in previous years I have put together a shortlist of books that I have read this year which would make excellent treats for young readers this half-term holiday as we approach Halloween 2022.

Winnie and Wilbur: Winnie’s Best Friend by Valerie Thomas, illustrated by Korky Paul

Always a delight for children of 5-7, the Winnie and Wilbur series are wonderful books to share with a young child. The stories are fun, Winnie is probably the most colourful and accident-prone witch in children’s fiction and there is so much to see and talk about in every one of Korky Paul’s brilliant colour spreads.

Midnight Magic: The Witch Trap by Michelle Harrison, illustrated by Elissa Elwick

Bursting with autumn colour, the latest rhyming adventure of magical black cat, Midnight, is perfect for newly independent readers of 6+.

Diary of an Accidental Witch: Ghostly Getaway by Perdita and Honor Cargill, illustrated by Katie Saunders

In the latest outing for Bea Black, she and her friends take off from Little Spellshire’s School of Extraordinary Arts to participate in a school trip to Cadabra Castle, allegedly haunted by the ghost of High Master Maggitty Crawe! This wonderfully funny story has been designed with extra care to increase accessibility for dyslexic readers.

The October Witches by Jennifer Claessen

Magical, feminist refashioning of the Arthurian legend. A pacy story of witchy family feuds, perfect for readers of 9+.

Ghost Scouts series written and illustrated by Taylor Dolan

A funny, fully illustrated series of books set in a fabulously spooky summer camp, deep in the swamps of the southern states of America. A certain Halloween treat for readers of 9+.

The Mummy’s Curse by M.A. Bennett

Ever wondered about the origins of the curse of King Tut? Well this rollicking time-travel adventure will take you back to the discovery of his tomb, 100 years ago and reveal all. A spine-tingling adventure, perfect for confident readers of 9+

Shadowghast by Thomas Taylor, illustrated by George Ermos

Experience your first Halloween in Eerie-on-Sea with Herbert Lemon and Violet Parma as they uncover the secrets of the spooky seaside town’s Ghastly Night! Fantastically paced and plotted adventure for readers of 9+.

The Haunted Hills by Berlie Doherty, illustrated by Tamsin Rosewell

The wild landscape of the Peak District is the setting for this tale of grief, loss and guilt. As a family’s attempts to recover from a fatal accident is interwoven with the legend of a local ghost. A sensitive, beautifully written story for readers of 11+.

The Billow Maiden by James Dixon, illustrated by Tamsin Rosewell

Another sensitively crafted tale, this is set on a remote Scottish island where a young teen is being sheltered by her uncle and aunt while her mother recovers from what appears to be a mental health crisis. This story is interwoven with the discovery of a terrifying mythical creature in one of the island’s caves. The Norse legend combined with modern setting are perfect for readers of 11+.

Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel

Boy meets ghost in this brilliantly written and imagined coming of age story, set in and around Toronto. This is a book which will absolutely transport readers of 11+ into an alternative reality where ghosts battle for dominance over humans in a setting which will be unusual and educational for many UK based readers.

Illustrated Halloween Fiction: Ghost Scouts written and illustrated by Taylor Dolan

Cover illustrations by Taylor Dolan, published by Guppy Books

The three books published to date in the Ghost Scouts series by author and illustrator Taylor Dolan are an exciting new choice to offer children of 9+ looking for a spooky treat this Halloween. They range in length from 120-150 pages, every one of which features coloured illustrations in this talented artist’s distinctive style. The exuberant stories bring an American slant to Halloween and the zany humour combined with wildly imaginative plots makes for an enjoyable reading experience.

In the first book, Welcome to Camp Croak, we are introduced to Lexie Wild, by whom all the stories are narrated. Her Grams was supposed to drop her off to summer camp at the Happy Hollow Camp for Joyful Boys and Girls. However, a glitch in her navigating skills leads Grams instead to Camp Croak where Lexie is greeted by a three-headed witch, who already knows her name! Lexie’s new roommates are a werewolf called Emmy LouLou, a skeleton called Bébé, a ghost called Sweet Boo and a zombie called Mary Shelley! Despite the swampy surroundings and unusual fellow campers, Lexie earns plenty of scout badges under the supervision of witch sisters Miss Parsleigh, Miss Sage and Miss Rosemarie, until the arrival of new scoutmaster Euphemia Vile changes everything! Read Welcome to Camp Croak to discover whether Lexie and friends can defeat Vile’s evil plans.

You’ll then want to rush straight onto Hullabaloo at Camp Croak where you’ll find Lexie and her fellow campers buzzing around preparing the camp for visitors’ weekend. However, when Lexie’s Grams does not arrive with the other visiting relatives, but is instead replaced by a mysterious stranger claiming to be her long lost mother, Lexie smells more than a swamp rat! Fortunately, her Grams has taught her some excellent code-cracking skills in the past and it seems that the time has come to decode the hidden message in a letter that “mother” has brought from Grams. More outrageously fast-paced and fun action in the bayou and a useful glossary of American terms awaits!

Halloween preparations are underway at Camp Croak in the third instalment of this series, Chaos at Camp Croak. Lexie fully expects that this year will be her best Halloween ever, but fake scoutmaster Euphemia Vile is back and this time she has not bothered with a disguise such is her determination to close the Camp! Chaos ensues when Lexie is tricked into performing a spell and it will take help from all her friends to put things right and enable the festivities to proceed on All Hallows Eve. Another madcap, creepy adventure awaits those who dare to venture into the realm of Camp Croak!

I am most grateful to Liz Scott and Guppy Books for sending me these three Ghost Scouts books to review in time for Halloween 2022.

Review: The Haunted Hills by Berlie Doherty, illustrated by Tamsin Rosewell

Cover illustration Tamsin Rosewell, published by UCLan Publishing, October 2022

This story of grief, guilt and loss set against the wildness of the Peak District is a book to read slowly in order to savour the atmosphere created by award-winning author Berlie Doherty. I sat down to read it as the rain hammered down outside, appropriately harmonising with the emotion that pours from the narrative, and couldn’t tear myself away.

Thirteen year-old Carl is staying in a remote holiday cottage with his photographer mother and teacher father, high in a Peak District landscape dominated by the bleating of sheep and cries of birds. However, this is not the carefree family holiday that many will have enjoyed in this wild, natural setting; it is apparent from the start that the family have travelled to enable Carl to recover from the fatal accident in which his childhood best friend, Jack, has died. Unsurprisingly, for such a gifted writer, Berlie Doherty conveys the sense of a family struggling to come to terms with grief with immense insight and sympathy. This is a realistic and three-dimensional portrayal, with both parents depicted trying everything they can to bring their son back from the edge of despair, and Carl understanding and appreciating his parents’ efforts but unable to tear himself out of the deep well of loss into which he has been plunged.

The landscape is integral to the atmosphere of the story and the incorporation of folklore in the form of a ghost story about the Lost Lad, Joseph, and his dog who haunt the area, watching over lost souls in the hills gives depth to Carl’s disorientation and dissociation from the life that he has known before. With voices in the wind, elusive figures in the corners of his eye and a house that creaks and breathes with former lives, we explore Carl’s sense of unreality. I found that the descriptions of his mother’s artistic landscape photography, utilising changes of light to create shadowy images, beautifully depicted the way that Carl is struggling to emerge from the gloom of bereavement and the part that he feels he might have contributed to his friend’s death. For as the story develops, we are given a glimpse into the gradual loss that changing friendships can cause during the teenage years when children moved on from shared childhood interests and perhaps forge new friendship groups. Juxtaposed against Carl’s loss is that of peripatetic shepherdess April, who is working on the neighbouring farm and has her own reasons for wandering the hills and feeling the presence of the Lost Lad. As they begin to understand each other’s need to be lifted from their despair, hope glimmers for acceptance and recovery.

Photo across the Peak District taken from Ramshaw Rocks by V Price, July 2022

This is not a “spooky” ghost story but rather a breath-taking exploration of the ambiguous nature of grief, suffused with understanding and imagination. Although this book is written for a readership of 11+, I think that its sensitive portrayal of a family overcoming a devastating loss holds valuable messages for all readers. The imagery of the crows, used so powerfully here, has prompted me to re-read a book which was given to me by a dear friend following a family bereavement, Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, which I would also recommend to older readers.

I am most grateful to UCLan publishing and Antonia Wilkinson for sending me a proof copy of The Haunted Hills in exchange for my honest opinion.

#MGReview: Edie and the Flits in Paris by Kate Wilkinson, illustrated by Joe Berger

cover image by Joe Berger, published by Piccadilly Press,
1st September 2022

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this charming story which captured the excitement and elegance of a first visit to Paris as a backdrop to an intriguing adventure. The very best children’s books, in my opinion, enrapture readers with the story but also leave you with some extra nuggets of knowledge, whether that is insight into a particular problem or situation, or new facts to help build an understanding of the world. In this case, author Kate Wilkinson totally immerses the reader into the Paris setting of the adventure. Appropriately for a story in which noticing the little things is of prime importance, her precise descriptions of the city’s architecture and especially the Metro stations enables her readers to picture themselves in the heart of the city, which I feel is a wonderful gift to children who might not be lucky enough to travel to Paris in person. She really does impart a love for the features that characterise Paris, from the metal café furniture to the fantastic displays in the window of a patisserie.

Edie and her father have been fortunate to receive an invitation from Madame Cloutier, the Directrice of the Paris Metro Lost Property Office for an expenses-paid trip as a result of their adventures in book one, Edie and the Box of Flits. Edie is ecstatic when she discovers that best friend Naz can accompany them, although less happy when Dad extends the invitation to Naz’s incredibly irritating little sister Sami. When the two older girls realise that Sami has smuggled three of the English Flits; Pea, Impy and Nid, through the Channel Tunnel in her backpack, they are furious at her for endangering the little people. Sami’s behaviour is particularly stressful for Edie and causes her to be quite rude to Fabien, the grandson of Madame Cloutier, who it transpires has his own bond with the Volettes, as French Flits are known.

Unfortunately, Fabien is not the only Parisian to be aware of the Volettes. Famous artist, Victor Rottier, with his icy blue eyes, crocodile skin boots and artworks featuring dead animals under glass domes, also seems to be aware of their presence and when the children discover the secret of his planned “Grande Révélation” they must work as a team to disrupt his foul scheme. The tension builds beautifully as children and Flits collaborate in a tale woven through with insight and magic.

I loved the chapter headings with their underground map design and station-related titles. The gray-scale illustrations by Joe Berger appear at key moments in the text adding to the drama of the narrative; Victor Rottier’s depiction is alarmingly villainous! At the end of the story there are fabulous facts about both the London Underground and the Paris Metro. I cannot recommend this story highly enough for anyone of 8+, I am sure that it will be a popular choice in Key Stage 2 classrooms and primary school libraries. With half-term arriving, put this story into the hands of a young reader and let them travel by book this holiday period!

I am most grateful to Piccadilly Press and Antonia Wilkinson for my gifted copy of Edie and the Flits in Paris in exchange for my honest opinion.

#MG Review: Amari and the Great Game by B.B. Alston

Cover image by Brittany Jackson, published by Farshore, 1st September 2022

The second adventure in the Amari series, Amari and the Great Game, is an absolute must-read for anyone of 9+ who loves a thrilling magical adventure. This story crackles with imagination, ripples with plot twists and ultimately delivers an explosive finale which sets up the continuation of the series.

Don’t worry if you have not read the first instalment, Amari and the Night Brothers, the back story is summarised in the opening chapters allowing you to enjoy this book as a standalone. However, I am pretty certain that reading this story will encourage you to seek out and read the opening book in the series if you have not already done so. The imaginative world-building of a contemporary Atlanta, where supernatural creatures live amongst the human population, disguised to all but members of the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, is perfectly constructed. Reading this series has given me the same sense of excitement at entering an alternative universe as I had when reading the Harry Potter books to my children more than 20 years ago.

Here, we join our main protagonist Amari, a 13 year-old black girl from the housing projects, as she adjusts to her new-found fame amongst the supernatural community following her recent defeat of fellow magician, Dylan van Helsing. Dylan had been working for the scourge of the magical world, Moreau Night and had double-crossed his master in a bid for domination of the community of magicians. The supernatural social media platform Eurg is filled with stories and video of Amaria and Dylan’s magical duel, but not all the commentary is in Amari’s favour. There are elements in the supernatural world who do not trust magicians and believe that everyone with this magical power must be evil simply because the Night Brothers who started the Ancient War, were magicians.

The plot of this compelling story revolves around the issue of scapegoating and “othering” certain sections of a community and the way that individuals with tyrannical intentions can manipulate media and thus populations to sow division, create unrest and grab power. With subplots involving the secret League of Magicians; dark magick which enables time to be frozen; friendships put under strain when communication goes awry; and a deadly game from which only one magician can emerge with their magic intact, this is a narrative that will keep readers turning the pages long after bedtime! The time freeze that occurs at the start of the book has left most of the supernatural world’s ruling council inanimate and Amari and her loyal band of friends are determined to investigate and discover who is behind the plot to seize control of their world. I won’t give any more plot details for fear of ruining anyone’s enjoyment.

Amari is a fantastic main protagonist and the friendship portrayed with Elsie is one which many young readers will relate to, with tension and misunderstandings but ultimately loyalty and mutual support. Her love for older brother Quinton is beautifully rendered, as she rises to every challenge to free him from the curse that Dylan cast on him. For this reader, Amari’s most important quality is the ability to believe that there is goodness in everyone, including her nemesis Dylan. Despite his betrayal of her, and the resultant UnWanteds Policy of the new Deputy Prime Minister prompted by the fear of magicians that he has caused, she continues to insist that Dylan retains a kernel of goodness. I think that this is such a hopeful element in a wonderfully entertaining novel for middle grade readers.

Amari and the Great Game was published on 1st September 2022 and I am most grateful to Hannah Penny and Farshore Books for my review copy in return for my honest opinion.

If you are looking for an immersive, magical adventure for children of 9+, this is a book that I highly recommend.

#MGReview: The October Witches by Jennifer Claessen

Cover artwork by Heidi Olivia Cannon, published by Uclan Publishing,
1st September 2022

A magical refashioning of the Arthurian legend, this middle grade coming of age story set amongst an unpredictable family of witches is a must for Halloween book selections this year. Narrator, Clemmie is the type of girl to which every reader can relate. She is worried about upcoming exams at school; is desperate to be liked by her slightly older, cool cousin Mirabelle; and clearly loves her family but maybe wishes they could be a bit more normal!

Clemmie shares a crowded, run down house on Pendragon Road with her mum, Patty, Aunts Prudie, Connie and Flissie and cousin Mirabelle and for eleven months of the year life is relatively normal. However, every October the older family members receive their magic and the household goes crazy for a month…and in this, her twelfth October, Clemmie expects to receive her magic and fully become a member of the coven! She joins the rest of the Merlyn family on their night time expedition to the allotted location for magic gathering and gets her first glimpse of their bitter rivals, the Morgan coven, sensing the enmity that exists between the two branches of the witchy world and little knowing the adventure that she will be pulled into.

I won’t describe the plot in any detail for fear of giving away spoilers. Suffice to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative which was pacy, perfectly pitched for readers of 9+ with gripping twists and turns, betrayals, unlikely alliances, peril, a magnificent villain in Aunt Morgan and some arch humour. Author Jennifer Claessen has wonderfully captured the voice of a twelve year old girl for whom bodily changes are causing uncertainty and nervousness and a growing awareness of family secrets causes confusion. Clemmie is a thoroughly engaging character and I rooted for her to gain control of her powers throughout. The relatable family dynamics are brilliantly entwined in a clever take on Arthurian legend, with the thirst for eternal power leading to a dramatic and vivid magical battle.

Although on the surface this is a story about witchy family feuds I felt that there was a deeper truth contained within the narrative; that of the younger generation breaking free of the chaos and mess created by their ancestors and forging a new truth and way of living. If you want a story that demonstrates the power of family loyalty, questions what we mean by magic and is thoroughly entertaining too, then add The October Witches to your Halloween wish list.

I am most grateful to Antonia Wilkinson and Uclan Publishing for sending me a proof copy of The October Witches prior to publication on 1st September 2022.

#BlogTour: Jump! by J.G. Nolan, illustrated by Carina Roberts

Cover illustration by Carina Roberts, published by Sergar Creative

A football story with a difference, this almost poetic account of determination and resilience echoes with the sound of past glories, and sets a path for future success. The artwork by Carina Roberts add greatly to the slightly other-worldly atmosphere of the book.

Robbie Blair is an enormously talented young footballer with the ability to beat defenders and defensive midfielders at will, with his tricks and flicks, swerves and dips of the shoulder. The one thing he can’t seem to beat is his own body, and after his femur is broken for the third time, the doctors have told him that at the age of eleven, his footballing career is over. After long weeks in traction and recuperation at home, Robbie is at last able to return to school, although sport is now off the timetable for him. However, a class trip to an old people’s home presents Robbie with the chance to chat to Fred and this old man’s pin-sharp reminiscences of the on-pitch heroics of a Celtic legend spark an otherworldly chain of events.

With a ghostly presence leading him through a training regime to build his strength, the discovery of an old abandoned football ground near his home in Clydebank and a young female footballer as a training partner, Robbie sets his sights on a full return to the pitch. I found this story really gripping, with a unique blend of fast-paced sporting action which reads like a match commentary and poetic passages which resonate with the echoes of Glasgow’s past, whether from the football pitch or the shipyards. I marvelled at Robbie’s resilience and courage in taking on a tough training regime in order to fulfil his dreams; although this book is football based, I think that young readers could apply this example to any endeavour in which they wish to excel. With the summer of fantastic football that we have all enjoyed, I believe that Jump! will appeal equally to girls and boys in upper KS2 and KS3.

As a reader who is well beyond the target range for this book, I was thoroughly invested in the story which brought back memories of my late dad and his often repeated tales of the Lisbon Lions. I think that author J G Nolan has perfectly captured the deeply rooted sense of community that used to be built around football clubs in the days when players were very much a part of that community. I am most grateful to LiterallyPR for my gifted copy of Jump! and the invitation to join the online blog tour. Do check out all the other reviews from a selection of wonderful bloggers.

Jump! Blog Tour. Graphic by LiterallyPR.