BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: Football School: Star Players (available here)
Authors: Alex Bellos & Ben Lyttleton
Illustrator: Spike Gerrell
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: May 2019
Most Suitable For: KS2
Reviewed by: Carol Carter (@HPSLibrary), librarian
Football School: Star Players is a collection of 50 inspiring stories of true football heroes. Each biography begins with a Top-Trumps-style card giving the player’s dates, teams and key statistics, followed by a 1-3 page funny and accessible summary of their achievements. Hilarious illustrations (see Bobby Charlton’s comb-over flying in the breeze) and stats tables break up the text, making it perfect for dipping in and out of.
While skills on the pitch are amply covered, inspirational quotes on the themes of hard work, team spirit, compassion and humility show that the right character is just as valuable as getting the ball into the back of the net, and it’s encouraging to see female footballers so well represented, making up 13 of the 50 biographies.
And the achievements are so varied! While we get the expected star players, both old and new (Pele, Maradona and Bobby Charlton; Salah, Neymar and Neuer), we also get a wide range of managers, coaches and less well-known players who have achieved great things on and off the pitch. Examples include Brandi Chatain, who is donating her brain to medical science so the effects of headers can be investigated; Daniel Clarke, the blind centre-forward; Didier Drogba’s role in stopping Ivory Coast’s civil war; Katayoun Khosrowyar’s fight to allow the wearing of hijabs; and Jeff Hall, who’s early death is credited with leading to the eradication of polio in the UK. The wide-roaming text also takes in such varied topics as the Siege of Sarajevo, To Kill A Mockingbird, the Hillsborough tragedy, Nazi Germany and plastics pollution.
Football School: Star Players will be a huge hit with stats-obsessed football fans, but also deserves a wider audience for its well-written, informative and enjoyable tour of football’s history, present and future.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Carol for reviewing it.