"FOOTBALL - it's all I ever think about" begins Charlie Merrick at the beginning of this book. And if that is you too then this is the book for you.
Charlie Merrick is captain of North Star Galaxy under-12s. Trouble is most of the team from the previous season has left to form a new team, and all the players left are "misfits". Charlie himself says his "feet are not quite as good at football as his brain" for example.
Charlie sees a competition - "Would your team like to take part in a pre-match tournament at this summer's world cup finals?" and enters North Star, which involves writing a diary about his team's season (essentially this book), complete with pictures throughout as he is also a budding cartoonist. This means things like player cards and statman facts based on real-life football facts appear along the way, plus bits of comic strip, which helps break up the text for young readers and leads to the comparisons between this book and the Tom Gates books for example. The text itself is in a child friendly font too.
Anyway the first match report sees an 11-0 loss, but as the manager says, "Remember lads, football's not just about winning" which is just as well for the misfits. Other clever things in the book include splitting it into two halves, just like a football match, and little details like that that will appeal to football fans.
Ultimately the story is about friendship and teamwork and has an excellent crescendo with funny moments along the way. It would suit children who love football but as a 33-year-old football fan I too found it unputdownable and finished it within the day.
Publication date: 1 May 2014
Amazon UK link: Charlie Merrick's Misfits in Fouls, Friends, & Football