Review Blog

Aug 21 2014

Jasper Zammit: Soccer legend by Deborah Abela

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Random House Australia, 2014. ISBN 9780857983206. (Age: 10+) Recommended. Deborah Abela obviously greatly admired Johnny Warren, captain and vice-captain of the Socceroos from 1964 to 1974. Johnny was involved in the sport for 50 years and Deborah has drawn on his experiences when writing the Jasper Zammit series. She introduces every chapter with Johnny's reflections on the game.
This edition contains all three books, The game of life, The striker and The finals.
In The game of life, we are introduced to Jasper Zammit, a young player for the Rovers. He is not a very effective member however as he tends to drift off into a world of his own, one in which he is the star player of his team.
Jasper's Nannu had been a professional soccer player and he loved to help Jasper train in the backyard every afternoon. His Nannu had lived in the converted garage of Jasper's home ever since his wife died. Jasper loved to hear his grandfather's stories and look through his many photo albums.
One day a new player, Liliana, was introduced to the team. She was unlike any girl that Jasper had known. She was loud and boisterous during practice but it became obvious that she was a very talented player. Within a short time Jasper and Lil had become close friends. Lil certainly brought a lot of energy and laughter to the team.
Jasper really appreciated that both his parents regularly came to watch the games and he looked forward to discussing the play with them as well as his Nannu. That was to change when his father's new boss expected all his staff to work much harder and longer hours. His father was pressured into working on weekends and had to miss the games. After a time, the strain was too great for Mr. Zammit and he quit his job. Jasper was dismayed to discover that his father's boss was Lil's father. He worried that their newly founded friendship might not be able to survive...
This book deals with friendships and family relationships as Jasper, his family and his friends discover what is truly important in life.
In The striker, a new student at Jasper's school, Aamir, is experiencing problems. He is a recent refugee from Afghanistan and has little English. Jasper remembers his grandfather's stories about coming to Australia from Malta after World War II and how difficult it had been for him. He befriends Aamir and discovers his new friend's love of soccer. Jasper is convinced that Aamir would be a great asset to his team the Rovers... But things never go smoothly.
In this book, Deborah Abela explores issues of friendship and racism within communities and the importance that sport has.
In The finals, the Rovers have been playing well and expect to be in the finals. However Coach Wallace must suddenly take his wife to Hungary leaving Bill Riley to take over the coaching position. Coach Riley is determined that the Rovers make the finals and sets up a grueling training program. Is Coach Riley taking the game a bit too seriously...? In this book, Deborah explores motives behind people's actions as Coach Riley is challenged by Jasper's grandfather.
This is a great publication for all young people that are interested in soccer. Girls and boys are both important to the team and lots of issues are introduced and discussed in ways that make them very relevant to the reader. The only downside is that the size of the book may put off some potential readers.
Lyn Poole

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