Adrian Beck, The Knockout Cup (The Champion Charlies #3), Random House Australia, September 2018, 176 pp., RRP $14.99, ISBN 9780143791287
The Grand Finale (The Champion Charlies #4), Random House Australia, September 2018, 176 pp., RRP $14.99, ISBN 9780143791300
The Knockout Cup and The Grand Finale are the third and fourth books respectively, in The Champion Charlies soccer series by Adrian Beck.
Charlotte Alessi and Charles Jackon (CJ) are co-captains of their school soccer team the Jindaberg Jets. In The Knockout Cup, the team has to fight their way through a knockout completion held in the country, and in The Grand Finale, the Charlies are trying to end their season on a high by winning the grand final.
I love sport of all types so have read quite a few sports books for kids, and I can honestly say these books are one of the best I’ve read. They are well written, have interesting, proper plots and the pacing is perfect for the target age of 8-12.
What I particularly liked is the messages about teamwork, preparation, competitiveness and sportsmanship woven throughout. Any kid playing sport is sure to relate to the sporting problems faced by the characters. Competition and sportsmanship can have many colliding values which create many grey areas, and these books did a good job of highlighting some of these in an accessible way.
The balance between soccer and story is also perfect. There’s enough soccer detail to satisfy even the most die-hard enthusiast but it’s added in such a way that it doesn’t bog down the story. The characters are strong and interesting, as well as being quintessentially Australian. My only negative is that there were maybe a few too many bum, fart and snot jokes for my liking, but then again, I’m not nine.
These books have been developed in partnership with Football Federation Australia and each book features Socceroos and Matildas players as well as a heap of fun football facts which kids will love. Also, by featuring Charlotte and CJ as co-captains and presenting a team filled with kids from different backgrounds, it’s obvious that a real effort has been made to be inclusive and celebrate diversity.
Both boys and girls who love sport, and soccer in particular, will enjoy these books. The Champion Charlies is a funny, engaging and easy to read series about Aussie kids playing soccer.
Reviewed by Renee Mihulka