Seeing as it’s the time of the year when many of us resolve to get more active, we thought we’d go for gold and kick off 2018 with a selection of matchless sport-themed fiction, from inspirational energisers about team work and friendship, to top-flight tales that pack real punch and tackle hard-hitting topics. One thing’s for sure, each of the following recommended reads is Premier League quality, so what are you waiting for, Scoopsters? On your marks, get set, GO ... !
Roller Girl written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson
Oozing originality, and driven by drama and gallons of girl power, this cool comic-strip caper sees lovable misfit Astrid (AKA Asteroid) learn to stand on her own two skates, harnessing self-belief to overcome the odds and become a super-strong roller girl.
Girls FC by Helena Pielichaty, illustrated by Sonia Leong
Always fast-paced and often funny, this pioneering series is packed with action, energy and engaging dialogue, alongside the exploration of emotional themes, from family strains and self-esteem, to trying to fit in. The author knows her football, and also knows how to relate to her readers.
Flying Fergus written by Chris Hoy with Joanna Nadin, illustrated by Clare Elsom
This super series of cycling-based stories featuring nine-year-old Fergus Hamilton and his band of biking chums strikes a brilliant balance between all-out action, wacky adventure and quirky characters. This series comes especially recommended for reluctant readers – Fergus’s funny, fast-paced escapades are as gripping his tyres!
The Fastest Boy in the World by Elizabeth Laird
Eleven-year-old Solomon dreams of becoming a gold-medal-winning athlete like his heroes in the Ethiopian national team and, ahead of a trip to the capital city with his grandfather, he hopes he might see his heroes during a victory parade. But when they arrive family secrets are revealed, and Solomon must step up and put his running skills to a serious test. Uplifting, gripping and great in its evocation of Ethiopia (especially the contrasts between Solomon’s rural village and the massive metropolis), this is an inspiring treasure.
Kick by Mitch Johnson
Football-mad Budi lives in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, and works long hours sewing football boots in a factory owned by a wealthy tyrant. While the working conditions are harsh and exploitative, Budi takes joy from the fact that his Real Madrid idol wears the kind of boots he makes, and he dreams of making it to the big time himself. While this exceptional novel doesn’t shirk from the harsh realities of Budi’s life, themes of being proud of who you are, holding onto hope, and the importance of friendship shine through with compassion.