Action Replay by S W Parry

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Action Replay by S W Parry

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: Two children move to a new school when their footballer father is transferred to a new team.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 188 Date: April 2006
Publisher: Dogstar Publications Ltd
ISBN: 978-0955176500

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Gavin Carr is a Premiership footballer who has just moved to Barton Vale. His children, Archie and Rosie, have differing feelings about the move: football-mad Rosie is thrilled, whereas film-loving Archie knows he'll miss his mates.

Action Replay has been pitched as a tale that shows girls can play football too, even getting England coach Hope Powell to provide a foreword. Rosie's run-in with the school football team is just a minor part of the overall story. Archie is the main character. This isn't a book about a girl who likes football, it's about a boy who doesn't. It's not a football story, it's a soap opera (in a non-pejorative sense) about the world surrounding football, from the point of view of the families. Mostly though, it's a fun and enjoyable story.

SW Parry's writing is crisp and vibrant. She has an ear for the way children interact with each other, and has transferred this to the page perfectly. The action ticks along nicely and keeps the reader engaged throughout. The characters are a little simplistic, but intentionally so: Eric Starling is the stereotypical slimy bully, and his mother's cackling obnoxiousness would have everyone booing and hissing in a pantomime. It's fun to hate them, and it's fun to see if they'll get their comeuppance. It's all a little cheesy at times, but there's nothing wrong with that.

The only thing that sat uncomfortably with me in Action Replay was the way in which Gavin and Kim Carr's marital difficulties were handled. Books don't, of course, have to always be gritty, realistic, or even responsible, but the apparent simplicity of parents splitting up then getting back together when the father plays well in a football match felt out of place. If a serious topic is included in a lighthearted book, it's a tricky balance to get the tone right, and that balance was missed here. It is, however, only a small part of the book.

Action Replay's great strength is that, despite initial appearances, it doesn't hammer home supposed gender differences. Archie doesn't like football, and simply happens to be a boy. Rosie does like football, and simply happens to be a girl. In turn, this means it isn't either a book just for boys or girls. It's a book for anyone who likes lighthearted stories about children starting a new school, making friends, but with the added spotlight of celebrity from footballers, musicians and film stars.

Belinda Hollyer's Secrets, Lies and My Sister Kate is equally light and entertaining, while Hilary McKay's Casson family books more than repay the extra work they'll need to do in reading them.

Thanks to the author for sending it to Bookbag.

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