A sporty Hero’s Journey – ‘Pocket Rocket’

PocketRocket.jpg

Brilliant! Talk about filling a Jupiter-sized kidlit hole. Awesome girl playing non-traditionally-female sports and acing it? Bring it on! ‘Pocket Rocket‘, by Ellyse Perry and Sherryl Clark, is the first in the Ellyse Perry series, and it rocks.

Perry is up there with Australia’s top sportswomen, having represented our country in both Cricket and Soccer (football for you non-Aussies). I think she rocks as well!

This book, aimed at primary-school-aged girls, covers Perry’s first few weeks at high school as she tries to get on the school cricket team and win the Club Cricket grand final. It covers issues like changing friendships, settling in, and sticking to your dreams.

 I love that her Dad is the parent we hear most about – their relationship is really positive. And diverse characters are throughout – just like in a real life Aussie school.

The Basic Ingredients for this Junior Fiction book

  • 141 pages
  • ~25,000 words
  • 15 Chapters
  • Humour, friendship, self-belief
  • Swift publishing of Book 2
  • Books 3 and 4 coming out within months

If you’re not scared of the occasional blatant spoiler or ten (okay, it’s all spoilers), read on for my deconstruction…

The Recipe – Chosen One meets Sport

Chapter 1 sets everything up for the book. Perry’s first day at school, we meet three initial problems the book will revolve around:

  • wanting to get on the school team, is she too small?
  • her two best friends aren’t in her classes/ will she have/keep friendships?
  • she gets assigned debating instead of cricket as an elective/ will she like school?

Urgh. She’s feeling overwhelmed AND we’ve also met a grumpy teacher.

Chapters 2 and 3 are the rest of the day. Settling us in to the premise. Perry is tired, it’s hot, and she’s not bowling well in the park after school. Foreboding…

Chapter 4 – she tries out with the school team at lunchtime. The rest of the team are relative giants to Perry’s little Year Seven, but she wins them over with her skill. Until Ms Parkes the mean teacher says she can’t play because she’s too small. Ms Parkes is a one-dimensional antagonist, but that works for this book and this age-group. And this problem nicely ties in with the issues raised in Chapter 1.

‘Don’t diss the coach. Even if she’s a witch.’ (one of the team, p 36)

Chapter 5 she heads back that afternoon to train with the school team. I don’t know how much this is based on reality, but kudos to Perry either way. This took guts, and I love that in a book for younger girls. She plays super-well until Ms P sees her and sends her off the field. But then, Perry stays and watches. Brave! Her Dad wants to talk to the school on her behalf, but she won’t let him. She is ready to work at this problem herself.

Chapters 6 – 8 new friendships are developing, old friendships are still functioning, and Perry is getting noticed in Club Cricket. ‘Pocket Rocket’ is termed by a selector watching Perry in a Club game. It’s a positive midpoint.

Chapter 9 lets us back down again. Perry’s old friends are making new friends and she’s feeling left out. But there is also a positive – Perry is making a new friend in Hu, and she’s bowling better.

Chapter 10 she shows strong commitment to a friend – great to see. This resolves the issue of potentially losing her old friends. But in Chapter 11 her Club Captain is injured, and he won’t be able to play the Grand Final. Disaster!

Chapter 12 we resolve the Ms Parkes problem – the awesome selector is now the school coach. Perry is on the school team! Hurrah! So all that’s left in the book is the coming Club Grand Final. The entire school team is coming to watch her play, and Perry is nervous. Then she’s selected as the replacement Caption for the final – wow! Add to that, new friend Hu wins her race, so we get the idea that Hu and Perry are helping each other adapt to this new world of high school. Completely closing the loop about no friends in her new class.

Chapters 13 – 15 cover the Grand Final Climax. I love cricket, so I loved these chapters, however I think any kid with half an idea of sport will know what’s going on. The book ends positively, and with a hearty nod to the next book – which covers the winter soccer season. Clever marketing Random House!

Did I like it? Heck yeah

I was in reading withdrawal by the end of NaNoWriMo, so I devoured this book in a few hours. It was fun and totally inspiring without being cotton-candy sweet. It’s got a lot to offer and I’d love to have my cricket-loving daughter (how could she not love it, living in my house?) reading this series when she’s older.

 

 

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