The stakes are high in the fourth and final book in Paul Stewart’s Football Mad series and readers will be cheering loudly for the team that they want to win, but who will come out on top…boys or girls?
The all-conquering Dale Juniors boys’ football team face their toughest challenge yet when a school fundraiser pits them against their biggest rivals - the girls - in a one-off match to win the Charity Cup. For Scott, Danny and Jack, victory is the only possible outcome. Anything less and the whole school will be laughing at them. When injury and illness leaves the girls’ team a player short, captain and best player Scott finds himself switching teams. With his loyalties split, will Scott give his all for his new team or will he make sure the boys win by playing well below his best…
The boys get their comeuppance in this battle of the sexes as they and the girls face-off on the pitch in a match that has all the tension of an FA cup final, complete with nail-biting drama, silky skills, goals galore, bad behaviour, sendings-off and both teams desperate for the win.
Scott’s unexpected last-minute transfer to the girls’ team throws up much debate as he finds himself in the awkward position of being the potential star-player the girls need to beat the boys. But does he really want to beat his friends and teammates and how will they react? All is revealed across a topsy-turvy and exciting ninety minutes of action with Scott forced to question what he values in-front of an expectant crowd and in the face of some bad-mouthing boys who are less-than-happy that their captain is playing for the other team. Interesting dilemmas around sporting integrity, always playing to the best of your abilities, being a good team player and loyalties are all explored and children will be intrigued to see how Scott handles himself and to perhaps ponder what they would do in a similar situation.
It is great to have a series of well-written, realistic and engaging football books and readers will love following the exploits of Scott and the team. Whilst this title can be read as a stand-alone, I thoroughly recommend children head back to where it all began and read books one, two and three first if they have not already done so. Stewart’s storytelling and Michael Broad's awesome illustrations are a match-winning combination and because this is Barrington Stoke it is printed in dyslexia friendly font and on tinted paper ensuring the book can be accessed by every child.
With huge thanks to Barrington Stoke for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 8+.