Extra Time by Morris Gleitzman
Judas H brilliant! Is the new offering from Morris Gleitzman and his book, Extra Time.
Having a soccer obsessed son and equally mad family, I could relate word for word.
Bridie Sutherland and her 14 year old brother, Matt are going to make it BIG, they just don’t know it yet. Although Bridie kind of knows on some level her big brother will be famous, especially if she has anything to do with it.
The story is told through the eyes of Matt’s Manager, Bridie, who like many other 10 year olds is not afraid to speak her mind. Together the duo are an unstoppable team.
After a car accident years earlier resulting in the death of their twin sons and Matt having metal pins inserted in his legs, Mr & Mrs Sutherland are understandably very protective of their children. Mrs Sutherland is reluctant to let Matt breathe unless he is wrapped in cotton wool or bubble wrap, depending on her mood.
However, this doesn’t stop Matt. The fact he is ‘fragile’ is always at the back of his mind but never a deterrent. A friendly game against the Orange kids at the local waste ground is only the start of the rollercoaster ride.
An Aussie Rules type kick from one of the opposing players sends the ball into the adjoining cattle yard. Matt decides to retrieve it and is soon using his soccer skills to out manoeuver the stampeding cattle and save his life.
Everyone is mesmerised by Matt’s moves and don’t notice the TV crew who are supposed to be filming a visiting politician about the towns beef exports. Instead they too are hypnotised by Matt’s ability.
When the footage is beamed right into their home during the nightly news everyone is left speechless.
After some quick talking the pair appears to be off the hook and putting it all behind them. That is until the footage is seen by Franco Di Rafaela, one of the most famous players in the Universe who happens to be in town on a promotional tour.
With a little prompting from Bridie, Franco, Ken, his team’s marketing executive and Bruno (an assistant), arrive at the Horns and Tail Hotel.
When the offer of an all-expenses paid trip for Matt and his family to visit an English Premier League football team is offered, Bridie sees it as her big chance. Surely once they see her brother in action, they will be begging him to join their team.
With the whole town behind them, Matt and Bridie are set for an English adventure. Mum and Dad know they can’t let this opportunity go, but they must stay behind and care for their ailing parents. What better person to chaperone than a throwback from the rock n roll era, Uncle Cliff, who is an expert electronics salesman.
Under the watchful eye of Mrs Jarvis, the visitors settle into their English home away from home. They soon realise things are very different from the waste ground dust bowl back home. No one is smiling and having fun.
Bridie seizes every break, turning one chance into another and it isn’t too long before Matt has secured a spot with the academy.
Soon after Matt’s attitude changes and Bridie doesn’t like it one bit. What’s happened to her big brother? What’s happened to all the players?
Bridie’s on a mission to tell management why their team isn’t getting results on the field.
When she is given the responsibility of being the team mascot Bridie thinks it’s a perfect opportunity to voice her opinion on how the game should be played, for fun. Problem is when she decides to bring it up with the ref the game is still in play. 40,000 pairs of eyes are staring down at her with millions more watching from their homes.
The shock of her mistake results in her old foe, asthma crippling her airways but it does get her an audience with the team’s manager, Jean-Pierre Michel.
Bridie’s enthusiasm gets her into sticky situations on more than one occasion.
It’s a warts, goals and all story. A must read for any soccer fanatic, little sister, big brother, rocker Uncle, Mum or Dad.
CKT Book Reviewer