Sam Kerr & Fiona Harris (text) and Aki Fukuoka (illustrator), The Flip Out (Sam Kerr: Kicking Goals, #1), Simon & Schuster, September 2021, 176 pp., RRP $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781761100857
Sam Kerr: Kicking Goals is the debut early reader novel in a new series from real-life soccer star Sam Kerr. Kerr is the current captain of the Australian women’s soccer team (the Matildas) and advocates for women in sports. In her new novel, Kerr draws inspiration from her own experiences getting into professional sports as a girl with fewer options than the boys.
In the book, the titular character Sam is a footy player through and through. But when she gets excluded from her team, she has to explore other sports to reach her dreams of playing professionally.
Her friends Indi and Dylan believe she should flip from Aussie Rules to soccer. But how will Sam handle the change? Will she persist with her dreams, even in the face of a school bully, a cranky coach, and the pressure of learning a whole new set of rules? Will Sam give up – or will she make the flip?
Sam Kerr co-authored Kicking Goals with Fiona Harris, an Australian writer and actor. Though written by two celebrities, parents and teachers who typically steer clear of ‘celebrity books’ would be wise to make an exception for this one. Kicking Goals is incredibly well written for its target audience and speaks to all children about the reality of achieving dreams. It also packs in a great deal of strong ideas about friendships, teamwork, family relationships and perseverance – all without any didactic undertones.
About her books, Sam Kerr says: Through these books, I hope to share some of my personal stories of growing up, of pushing boundaries and chasing my dreams.
Kicking Goals is an uplifting read for both boys and girls aged seven and up, though younger readers can easily enjoy the story if read to them by a parent or teacher. They will especially enjoy the lively illustrations by Aki Fukuoka, who is also responsible for the illustrations in such series as Billie B Brown and Lily the Littlest Angel.
Book #2 in the Kicking Goals series, A New Knight, is due to be released in December 2021.
Reviewed by Geni Kuckhahn