Rugby Academy: Surface to Air by Tom Palmer

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Rugby Academy: Surface to Air by Tom Palmer

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Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The 2nd book in this excellent series could be read as a standalone but it's more fun if you know the background. It's a great story, whatever your age and comes with all the dyslexia-friendly expertise which Barrington Stoke have to offer.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 80 Date: February 2015
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781123980

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We first met Rory in Combat Zone when circumstances forced him to go to Broadlands Boarding School when both his parents were posted abroad by the RAF. It wasn't his choice - I mean they played rugby rather than his beloved football - but it wasn't long before he discovered that not only did he enjoy rugby, he was rather good at it. It was also something of a relief to be at a school where there were other boys in a similar situation to himself. By the time that we meet Rory again time has moved on and he's on his way to Toulon to play in an international schools rugby tournament.

It wasn't easy to adjust to France and Rory's not entirely at ease with Jesse, the team captain. He's good at being the captain on the field but his attitude can antagonise people and Rory isn't comfortable with the fact that he comes from a seriously rich family (his mother has come to Toulon on her new yacht...) But Rory's doing his best for the team and does his best to put all that behind him. Unfortunately some of the players in one of the other teams don't have quite such a sportsmanlike attitude. It all comes to a head in the final match.

I don't follow rugby, but I had to read through to the end of the book in one sitting to find out what happened and what a final(e) it proved to be. Tom Palmer brings the boys off the page vividly and I swear that I could hear the crowd screaming in the final. Any rugby enthusiast is going to love this book, but if, like me you know next to nothing about the game, then it's still a darn good story and there's the added bonus of collectable rugby cards attached to the covers. It's thought provoking too, on the subject of sportsmanship and competitiveness as well as learning to work with people who might not immediately appeal to you.

There's another real plus about this book too. It's from Barrington Stoke, so it's dyslexia friendly. The reading age is eight, but the interest age is nine plus, so it's going to encourage kids who are just a bit slow of picking up the reading habit or who are struggling with the technique. You'll find details of the reading age and interest age just to the right of the barcode on the back of the book - it's not obvious unless you know what you're looking for and kids not going to be embarrassed by it. The dyslexia-friendly sticker peels off easily and the cover design looks just like the trendy books the other kids are reading.

So, what makes the book dyslexia friendly? Well, firstly Barrington Stoke have designed a special font where each character is distinct and pulls the reader on to read the next word. It's printed on an off-white paper, which reduces the glare which can distract some readers and the paper is substantial enough to ensure that there's no bleed through from the reverse of the page. The spacing between words and lines has been carefully judged to give the best reading experience and the text has not been justified as this can mean that readers get lost on the page. The book has clearly defined chapters to give natural rest breaks and it's not just the reader which benefits from that - many parents and carers feel the same way. It's not only people with dyslexia which benefit from these ingenious changes - most young readers will find the books easier to read and more enjoyable. I'm just about into my dotage and recently I've been suffering from eye problems - and Barrington Stoke books are the ones which I can read most easily.

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

You could read this book as a standalone, but why deprive yourself of the pleasure of reading the first book in the series too? If you're more into football then Ghost Stadium by Tom Palmer will appeal to young teens. Older tweens will love Over The Line also by Tom Palmer.

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Buy Rugby Academy: Surface to Air by Tom Palmer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rugby Academy: Surface to Air by Tom Palmer at


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