Friday, 7 June 2013
Review: Frankie's Magic Football - Frankie vs The Pirate Pillagers by Frank Lampard
When Frankie wins a leathery old football from a mysterious stall at the fair, little does he know that he’s been entered into a fantastic fantasy league – leaping from one adventure to the next with his best friends and team mates Charlie, Louise and faithful dog Max. In this first book of the series, all is not as it seems and the odds are stacked against the little gang who must outwit a gang of pirates to win a football match on the high seas and escape home!
When it was first announced that Frank Lampard had secured a deal to write a series of books for the 5+ age group, there were a number of people (disappointingly many of them were authors) who seemed to express nothing but outrage. Some claimed it was patronising to children, and boys in particular, and I remember one person stating that the way to attract readers is through good writing, and that's it. Whilst I would agree that once a child has fallen in love with reading, good quality writing is the way to keep them hooked, I would suggest that books like this are the perfect way to get children (and boys in particular) reading for pleasure in the first place. Just look at the phenomenally popular Beast Quest series - the books won't win any kind of literary prize but I bet there are thousands of children out there who have read them multiple times, and who have subsequently been turned on to a love of books that may last them a lifetime. Author Barry Hutchison wrote a great blog post about this shortly after the announcement was made, and I strongly recommend you popping over his blog to read it here.
I for one have absolutely no problem with Frank Lampard writing a series of books if even just one child picks one up, reads it and then asks his/her parents for more. I would imagine that many parents would agree with me. And that was my opinion before reading it. Now that I've read the first in the series I would suggest that Little, Brown extend the deal to even more books. Frankie vs The Pirate Pillagers is a fun read from beginning to end, and many kids will love it.
Main character Frankie wins a tatty old football from the local fair, and he and his friends can't resist one quick kick-around at the park on their way home. Before they know it, Frankie, Charlie, Louise and dog max find themselves whisked away to a pirate ship in tropical waters, where they are forced to face a team of pirates in the fantasy league. If they win, Frankie's FC get to play another game, if they lose it's the long walk off a short plank for them all. Built into the story are themes of fair play and friendship, although they are not delivered in a preachy manner.
This is a great little book for kids who want to move on from large format picture books. A mere 80 pages of largish text, accompanied by Mike Jackson's fun illustrations, make this perfect for boys and girls who are just finding their feet when it comes to reading, and especially those who are football fans. I gave a copy to my nephew for his 5th birthday and I'm expecting to be asked to get him copies of the other books in the series as they are published. Incidentally, his mother (my sister) also agreed completely with me - it doesn't matter who has written a book if it encourages a child to start reading for pleasure.
You can find out more about the books over at http://www.frankiesmagicfootball.co.uk/. The book was published yesterday and the second in the series, Frankie vs the Rowdy Romans, is due out in August. My thanks go to the lovely people at Little, Brown for sending me a copy to read.