Monday, 29 August 2011
Saturday, 27 August 2011
It's about a boy who has extraordinary pace on the rugby field. When he gets the ball he can really fly down the wing and he goes from being an ordinary player to a child star in a professional team. But it also about the boy and his dad and his friends and who they relate to each other as he becomes successsful.
Steven now has three dilemmas: Rugby League or Union, Dad or Step Dad, north v south.
Friday, 26 August 2011
This is the first of a series of rugby book reviews in the run-up to Rugby World Cup 2011, which runs from 9th September to 23rd October.
The Official Guide to RWC 2011 is very good. It's just what you need on the table by your armchair as you settle down to watch 48 games of rugby union over 45 days.
Like most official guides it contains the following sections, written in clear and concise English:
* a bit about New Zealand (in case you can actually afford to go an see the tournament)
* the road to the World Cup - how teams qualified
* a run down on all the teams, in pool order
(pools are the groups the teams are in during the early stages of the tournament)
* some great rugby world cup moments
* the possible star players
* a double page spread on each of the six tournaments since the first in 1987
* some frankly fascinating stats and facts for you to run through during the ad breaks, as the whole tournament is on ITV
That's what's in it. But what is it like?
It's not long-winded, but it has lots of interesting information.
The mix of text and pictures is well done and looks exciting.
It can be read as a need-to-know reference book or as a linear read.
It includes some unforgettable moments, including Mandela handing the Springbok captain the trophy in 1995 and Johhny Wilkinson's 2003 drop goal.
And... and it has a score chart to fill in!
That's it. It's very good. Full stop.
The Official Guide to the 2011 Rugby World Cup is published by Carlton Books.
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
I read Anthony Clavane's Guardian Top Ten of Football Fiction this morning.
He includes A Kestel for a Knave, Goalkeepers are Different, Football Factory and others. Even the mighty
B S Johnson. Some great books.
But let's be honest: there's not a lot of decent football fiction around now - and there never has been.
That's why Anthony's list is a bit thin. If he had to do a second XI list, he'd be struggling.
The Damned United is the only stand out well-known novel about the beautiful game in recent years.
Or is it?
Now, don't get me wrong. I like Anthony. We're friends. We share a lot: football team (Leeds United), literary agent, a love of Tony Harrison's poems. His book - Promised Land - is a good read.
But what about children's books? Or Young Adult fiction?
This is not me trying to get my books in Anthony's list. His is clearly a list for adults. And I'm not the one to say mine would even get on a kids' top ten. There are plenty of great writers in the genre.
But I think Mal Peet's three football books - Keeper, Penalty and Exposure - are better than all the books on Anthony's list.
They are beautifully written, complex, and deeply moving. They include themes such as deforestation, ghosts, magic and celebrity meglomanic. And they are about football.
But not football in the sense of just kicking a ball around. They are about how players cope with fame, about what journalists have to do to get a story, about how some players can be very vulnerable and how fans fit into the picture. They chart the human condition superbly.I think it is to do with classification. If a book is called a children's book or a Young Adult book, most adults would not consider it.
If you know an adult football fan, get them Keeper or Exposure. Football fiction at its best.
Anthony Clavane's list of ten great football fictions
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
I am working with Wrexham Football Club in the autumn on a scheme that will reach 360 chldren from 12 schools.
I have worked on sports literacy schemes for over a decade, most notbaly on the Premier League Reading Stars scheme for the last eight years. I also have a lot of free resources about football and literacy available on my website.
But Wrexham is new for me. It's a term-long scheme that will reach each of the children seven times.
Here is what we're going to do.
Over two days in September, each school will come to Wrexham's Racecourse Ground. They will spend a half day at the stadium, enjoying three sessions:
* taking part in my Football Reading Game, a literacy quiz that features a penalty shoot out
* a training session with Wrexham FC coaches
* a tour of the Racecourse Ground and talk about its history
The children will come in on buses, all covered by the project.
I have devised a five-part course of sessions the children can do back at their schools in October and November. The five sessions are:
* reading football in newspapers and writing their own articles
* looking at biograhies of football players and creating their own of their favourite player
* a reading group looking at one of my books, or one of the free stories I have on my website
* a trip to Wrexham Library to meet librarians and do the Football Reading Library Treasure Hunt (coaches paid for by the scheme)
* creating posters and activities to encourage the children taking part to enthuse other children at the school to read and write about football
A session for all twelve schools with a panel of football reading experts, including:
* a Wrexham AFC player
* a well known Wrexham related journalist
* a football story author (me again)
We are doing this because we want to find ways of encouraging football fans to become excited about reading around the game. Also, with the hope that they become more involved with their local club in a place that is dangerously close to Manchester and Liverpool; and at a time that Wrexham FC is in a perilous state.
The money for the scheme has come from a bid Wrexham FC applied for to run educational schemes.
All the free resourcues mentioned above can be found on my website.
I had a message from a football fan called Austin this week.
He'd read my blog about using football to encourage children to read.
This is what three generations of his family do every week.
(The photo is not of Austin, but one I took off the internet.)
"Every Saturday morning I sit down with my son and we read the football section in the newspaper. We then attempt to predict the results of the weekend's games in the Premier League. A correct score is worth 5 points, a correct result 3 points.
"Grandad sends us his predictions as well.
"We put £1 in the pot each week. (I put my son's in.) And we keep a spreadsheet of the results and points.
"The winner is the one with the most points at the end of the season."
I thought it sounded brilliant, so I wanted to share it.
For your information: Austin's son is in the lead so far.
Sunday, 14 August 2011
The last tip is to start watching the new weekly show: THE FOOTBALL READING SHOW.
The first one is a bit shaky, but in future weeks I'll take you on a tour of reading in bookshops, libraries and football stadia, as well as introducing you to footballers, authors and lots of readers.
Thanks for reading these blogs and for the nice responses.
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Friday, 12 August 2011
Thursday, 11 August 2011
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
Sunday, 7 August 2011
Fantasy Football could be the way to get your children into reading more about football. It might encourage them to read more in newspapers and online in particular.
If you don't know what it is, Fantasy Football is a game you can play in newspapers and on some websites, where you pick a team using all the players in the Premier League.
Then, as the season unfolds, you gain or lose points from your players' performances: how many goals they score, or their team concedes; if they set up a goal or get sent off.
You can transfer players throughout the season.
Most people play it in leagues, pitting their football expertise against friends and workmates.
So why not do it with your kids? Or even with their friends and other parents?
It's fun and it makes Match of the Day more interesting.
The reading bit is... to make sure you know who the best players are to sign for your team or to make sure you know who is injured or on international duty, you need to read match previews and reports in the newspapers or online.
If you don't read up on it, you lose.
That's the idea.
You can set up a league on various websites. The most popular are the Daily Telegraph and the Sun, but there are several more to choose from.
To read the newspapers, if you can;t afford to buy a paper every day, try the newspapers websites, like the Mirror. Or go to the library where you can read newspapers for free.
And if you win a national competition, you can win LOTS of money. But you probably won't...