MATTHEW’S GOALS by Michael Hardcastle (A&C Black; €5.92). Soccer-mad Matthew forgets to close the door of his mum’s freezer, leading to the worst punishment possible — being banned from playing soccer just as an important fixture is looming.
Matthew’s only hope is to win his mother over by doing unasked tasks around the house and in the garden. Matters take a turn for the worse when his brother Eddie takes his place on the school team. Exciting, colourful graphic novel, though the opening is dated by the Milan TV commentary featuring now long-retired Baresi and Albertini.
Dancing In The Dark by PR Prendergast (O’Brien Press; €7.99). The story tells of the relationship between Jessie and her brother James, an unusual relationship as James has died six months previously. This is a secret Jessie dare not share with anybody — not with her parentsor her classmates, some of whom have taken to sly bullying aimed at discouraging her from joining the school dance group. Another loner, Alan, befriends her and, together with help from her brother, Jessie plucks up courage to face up to her tormentors. A very imaginative story with authentic teen dialogue. Suitable for age 10 and upwards.
A Million Brilliant Poems chosen by Roger Stevens (A&C Black; €5.92). If this varied and witty collection doesn’t convert youngsters to enjoying poetry, then nothing will. In Mr Khan’s Shop “shiny emerald chillies lie like incendiary bombs” beside “bhajees, samosas, pakoras”, so the poet hopes the owner will invite him to sit down “and eat his words”. ! And most impressively, with echoes of the rhythm of Lepanto are the sounds in A Crack Band which, ironically, are nothing more than the regular creaking of an old heating system: “Castanets are clicking, there’s a clanging from a gong, as the new house warms up and the band plays on”. Magic words.