Charlie Merrick's Misfits
Oxford, OUP, 2014, 201p
With a new cohort of eager year 7s, I have been trying hard to keep up with the latest publications for boys of this age (girls typically find it much easier to find a book they enjoy). I saw Dave Cousins talk about his new books at the SLA Conference back in June, so when they were delivered last week, I got reading!
Charlie Merrick's football team is made up of those who stayed behind when all the good players moved to the rival team, Goldbridge Colts. When Jack starts at school, fresh from an academy club, North Star are eager to snap him up, so Charlie tells Jack he will put in a good word with his sister, Emily. Unfortunately, things do not go according to plan, and as Charlie struggles to convince Jack to stay, it seems the rest of his squad are falling apart.
Charlie isn't a flawless protagonist - in fact, as the novel goes on he realises that he has been responsible for the low morale in his team. He will put it before everything, even his friendships.
Cousins has created an elaborate and original format within this book, which included written passages, illustrations, scenes in comic book form, snippets of fantasy commentary, and match player cards detailing strengths and weaknesses of each character. Personally, I struggled to take everything in, with so much going on, but I can definitely see the value in the variety for the more reluctant readers.
I wish I had had this book during the World Cup, but I am glad there is still momentum in school for students to read in this area. And regardless, with humour and relatable characters, I know many junior boys who will love this.