Football hero Roy of the Rovers probably needs no introduction, a name known even to those with little interest in the game. The successful relaunch of his adventures in both graphic novel and book form has proved popular with readers. This story is the first ever Roy of the Rovers title to be told from the perspective of a female footballer – Rocky Race, Roy’s younger sister.
Rocky Race is a struggling student and brilliant footballer, but to most people she’s just Roy Race’s little sister. This frustrates and angers Rocky especially as Melchester Rovers head to the League Cup Final. Rocky’s fed up of everyone knowing her only through Roy, she’s had enough of school, and worse still she’s started having panic attacks. Now it’s up to Rocky to find her own way, both as a person and a player, and somehow she has to find something within herself to help her do this.
Reading this took me back to when my son was in primary school and his reading of choice was Match Magazine or sometimes football stories by Rob Childs. Magazines and books about a favourite hobby or pastime can often be the key that opens the door to reading for pleasure for children. Tom Palmer’s love and knowledge of football is evident in the writing yet he also includes themes of family, anxiety and teenage worries. This is the sort of book that could turn a football fan into a reader and a reader into a football fan. Rocky is a great character, flawed but likeable. Her family relationships feel believable and her struggles to balance her own needs with those of others is something that young readers will empathise with. She worries about exams, the health of her dad, her future and her friendships. There is much here with which young readers will identify and it is told in an accessible style.
A terrific read for football lovers, both girls and boys, the on pitch action reminds me of matches I have watched with my family and readers will quickly be drawn into the excitement and the highs and lows of life as a football fan. It is lovely to see this book dedicated to Helena Pielichaty whose Girls FC series was one of the first featuring girls’ football that I discovered as a school librarian. Helena also gets her moment of glory on the pitch which made me smile!
There is a section on Tom Palmer’s website devoted to the Roy of the Rovers books containing more information and links to associated resources, posters and chapters to read. Thank you to the publishers, Rebellion for providing my review copy.