Author: Sally Murphy Illustrator: Sarah Davis
Publisher: Walker Books
Synopsis: From the award-winning author of Pearl Verses the World and Toppling comes a story about connections, the ways they are made and what happens when they are lost. When you’re part of the team the sideline is a place of refuge of rest of reprieve. But when you’re out of the team the sideline changes. Suddenly it’s the loneliest place of them all. After a devastating football injury, Blake struggles to cope with life on the sideline. Jolene, a gifted but conflicted hockey player, wants nothing more than for her dad to come home. And soccer-loving refugee, Amed, wants to belong. On the surface, it seems they have nothing in common. Except sport. A touching and inspirational story about the things that bind us all.
Themes: Connections between people, friendship, family, loss, supporting each other.
Year levels: Australian Curriculum: English, Years 5 and 6
Why use this book? The theme of fitting in and belonging will resonate with the intended audience for this book — allowing classes to explore the feelings of others and find ways to make their class and friendship groups more open and accepting of others. The three main characters demonstrate resilience as they use shared interests in sport, reading and ultimately the support they give one another, to help cope with the pressures of their lives, providing good role models for a preteen audience. Exploration of these themes through role play or small group discussions will help bring out the meanings in the story. The reader is allowed inside the characters' minds, as the free verse creates a poetic stream of consciousness that highlights the role of language in forming one’s own identity and establishing friendships.
Focus passages: Jolene on pages 44–47, Blake on page 70 and Amed on pages 68 and 69
Unit writer: Jennifer Asha