Always Last (On the Ball) by Frances Mackay

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Always Last (On the Ball) by Frances Mackay

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Category: Emerging Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A good football story with plenty of illustrations for the emerging or reluctant reader. First book in a series of six.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 36 Date: July 2014
Publisher: Ransom Publishing
ISBN: 978-1781276976

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Ben was always last. Last to the bathroom in the morning, last to breakfast, last into school... You get the picture. These didn't worry him overly much but Ben's a football enthusiast - and he was always last to be picked when the captains were choosing teams. Even the girls were picked before him and there was always a bit of grumbling when someone had to take him onto their side. But then an anonymous friend gave him some advice in a letter and although Ben couldn't see how it could possibly work, he decided to give it a try.

He's a typical lad and I'm sure that there will be a lot of young readers who can empathise with Ben. What the anonymous friend (I think it must have been his Mum, you know!) asked him to do wasn't difficult but they're not the things that come naturally to your average lad, particularly the bits about making your bed and having a thorough wash of a morning. And Ben doesn't see how it's going to to improve his football: he's still last to be chosen, but then another anonymous letter arrives with more tasks for Ben.

There's lots to love about this book, with its nice clear font for the emerging or reluctant reader and plenty of pictures which give clues if the words don't immediately spring to mind - there's not a double-page spread without a picture. There's also a bit of repetition which makes life a little bit easier - and it fits nicely into the story. I loved the fact that girls play football (and obviously quite well) and that not everyone is white. Excellent - no one is going to feel marginalised when they read the book. I did wonder if the lack of chapters might be a little much for the emerging readers but there's not a lot of text to cope with before you can be proud of having got a book under your belt. Apart from the fact that shadows do show through from the reverse of the page this could be the perfect dyslexia-friendly book.

The back of the book says Book band White but I couldn't find any explanation in the book as to what this meant. The book is the first in a series of six books (they're all band white) and whilst there are nudges towards reading the others in the series it's not too blatant. They're all gently educational and improving without being too preachy and the stories are good.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For more football we can recommend Football Crazy by Tony Bradman and Michael Broad.

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Buy Always Last (On the Ball) by Frances Mackay at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Always Last (On the Ball) by Frances Mackay at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Always Last (On the Ball) by Frances Mackay at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Always Last (On the Ball) by Frances Mackay at


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