Reading the Game (Football Academy) by Tom Palmer

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Reading the Game (Football Academy) by Tom Palmer

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Continuing this very successful series aimed at sport-loving reluctant readers. The underlying theme this time is illiteracy.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: July 2009
Publisher: Puffin
ISBN: 0141324708

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It's the next story in the Football Academy series tracking the United Under 12s team and this one centres on Ben, who reads the game brilliantly but other things much less well. Ben's big secret is beginning to affect his performance on the pitch and his relationships with his team mates. If he's not careful, he'll be out of school and worse still, out of the squad.

I'm quite a fan of this Football Academy series. It's often quite difficult to say too much about early readers or books directed at those for whom reading is a painful chore - they're simple, they're to the point, and the vocabulary is either well or poorly pitched. You can almost see why so few of them tickle the fancy of the target audience. But that fancy does need tickling. Tom Palmer writes simply, is to the point, and his vocabulary is very well chosen. He's also picked football as his topic, so he has ticked all the boxes. But he also picks a topical issue to underly the plot and I think this is probably his hook.

Here, it's illiteracy. Ben struggles with reading and he's hiding it from everyone, even his mum. His shame is palpable, and when he discovers that his revered trainer Steve, an ex-United player, also struggled, to the extent that he couldn't sign his first professional contract, it's a bolt from the blue that shocks him into trying to do something about it. His pride in success more than equals his pride in his achievements on the football field, and this is a salutary lesson to all Palmer's readers.

But there's still plenty of football, enough to keep any junior fan more than satisfied. I think this is an extremely successful series and I genuinely do wish it well.

My thanks to the nice people at Puffin for sending the book.

I've told you about other football books on the reviews of the other Football Academy books. If they're reluctant readers, they'll love The Day My Bum Went Psycho by Andy Griffiths, which has fewer footballs, but more than makes up for it with bucketloads of flatulence. Parents can snigger at You'll Win Nothing With Kids by Jim White.

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Buy Reading the Game (Football Academy) by Tom Palmer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Reading the Game (Football Academy) by Tom Palmer at


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