Secret FC by Tom Palmer and Garry Parsons

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Secret FC by Tom Palmer and Garry Parsons

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Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: I'm reluctant to give a book with such bizarrely fantastical elements the full marks, but this heartfelt plea to play will be well thought of by its readers – if not every member of the publisher's target audience.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 96 Date: January 2017
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781781126875

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Meet Lily, Maddie, Zack, Khal, and James and Batts. They all go to a school together – and they do it eagerly, as their inner city life is so devoid of nature and the open space that the playground is the only room large enough for football. But lo and behold the new head teacher has banned all ball games, on health and safety grounds. How do these friends get over their disappointment? Why, with imagination, hard work and a firm belief that what they're doing is right, is how – they convert a rotting tennis court handily hidden in the school's woods into a pitch, where after a lot of labours they can play to their heart's content. Or so they think…

Yes, the handy school woods turn out not to be the only wildly fantastical thing about this book, but it certainly serves as a snappy drama for the young reader. Boys and girls together in their love of the game, working hard – even if it means smuggling saws and garden shears into school, as you do – and oddly paralleling their fourteenth century counterparts, who found their large mob football games banned by their ruler who wanted everyone an expert archer. Is it any wonder the school concerned here is called Kingsfolly Junior?

If you have any stereotype in your mind about football novels, perhaps this is the volume to make you rethink them. There is not too much in the way of sporting drama, and last-minute sprints to goal, and so on. Instead you get the nuance given by the historical comparison, and Lily and James bickering together, only to find companionship when it matters, and other aspects that prove this to be much more carefully thought through than the routine knocked-up story. It's actually a thinly-disguised Issue Book – not that the reader would notice. Oddly, however, one kid just hovers in the background and never really comes to the field with anything, when he could have played a part.

His unusual lack of meaningfulness brings me to the flaws with this book, which, it coming from one of the better publishers around, are surprising. While their paper stock and dutiful care and attention always make their volumes perfect for those with reading problems, here the stock is easily see-through, and not their typical special thickness. * And there's a typo. I know, shock horror. Still, with the pictorial footie – sorry, footer – and large font the pages speed by, and the usual satisfaction of reading a proper story, featuring and written for proper kids, is going to be great. I did wish the more laughable sections of the plot were a bit more convincing, though, to allow a wider age range to come away from this with satisfaction.

  • Editor's note: Secret FC is from Barrington Stokes Conkers series which are not specifically aimed at children with dyslexia but rather at those who are ready to take the next step, hence the reason why the paper is of the usual thickness which you find in most books rather than the more solid pages of the dyslexia-friendly books.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Rugby Academy: Deadlocked by Tom Palmer rounded off a great series from the same author and publisher.

Buy Secret FC by Tom Palmer and Garry Parsons at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Secret FC by Tom Palmer and Garry Parsons at

Buy Secret FC by Tom Palmer and Garry Parsons at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Secret FC by Tom Palmer and Garry Parsons at


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