Kick a goal with winter’s best sports stories for kids

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Did you know the World Cup is on this year? If you didn’t, brace yourself because come June, millions of people will be gripped by soccer fever.

For junior soccer fans, or for parents who’d like to introduce their toddlers to joys of the game well before June, check out Maisy Plays Soccer by Lucy Cousins. It’s a ‘Maisy First Experiences’ book and covers all the soccer essentials – uniforms, referees and their whistles, half-time oranges, stealing the ball and scoring a goal. The use of onomatopoeia makes Maisy’s soccer match action-packed – “FOUMPHHH!” goes the ball, as it’s kicked; “BOUF!” as it goes into the goal; and “WHEE!” goes the umpire’s whistle. In Cousins’ signature style, she emphasises the importance of the fun to be had with friends playing sport, as opposed to the competitive element.

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From Australian author Michael Wagner, comes the latest in the fabulous Maxx Rumble series. I will be forever indebted to Wagner for turning my six-year-old son into a passionate reader overnight. At the time, there were plenty of stories about pint-sized detectives suitable for newly-independent readers but they didn’t grab his interest. In fact, the only thing he wanted to read was the football section of the newspaper. And then we found Maxx Rumble, a sports-mad kid whose stories revolve around footy and cricket.

Just in time for the World Cup, Maxx Rumble finds himself facing off on the soccer pitch in a collection of three stories – Knockout!, Shocker! and Grand Final!. Wagner knows the details that count and the books include fixtures and results so that you can follow the progress of Maxx’s team.

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Finally, if ‘football’ means Australian Rules to you, junior independent readers should check out Shane Crawford’s latest endeavour, the Kick it to Nick series. Now some will be well-versed on Crawford’s illustrious AFL career and others will know him from Babyology circles, for his kids fashion label, Kiniki but Crawford has added another string to the bow – children’s author. The stories combine lots of footy action with some excellent off-field adventures. The first two books in the series, The Cursed Cup and Forward Line Freak, are out now. Check out the Kick it to Nick website for information about forthcoming titles, activities and some footy tips from Crawf.

Katrina Whelen

Katrina studied planning and design, did the hard yards working in a big office building and then traded it all in for a relaxing (!) life at home with four children. She now fills her time with writing, completing a degree in genetics and taxiing her children around Melbourne to their various sporting commitments (not necessarily in that order).

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