Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2021
This picture book, written by sports journalist and commentator Alister Nicholson will delight many children, not least because it is about something they enjoy and relate to – playing sport with their friends.
It’s illustrated by Tom Jellett in a lively and amusing manner with animated young cricketers of all sorts happily playing the game in school yards, backyards, at the beach and on sports fields.
Along with an enthusiastic endorsement of the game, the book refers to many useful and interesting pieces of information like the rather strange names for fielding positions, cricket traditions like the baggy green, well-loved competitions like the Sheffield Shield and the names of famous cricket grounds around the world. Much of this could be a spark for youngsters to go in search of more detailed information.
The author has been at pains to emphasise the inclusivity of the game with references to girls and women, including at the top level and diversity of all kinds. Most of all it is the fun and conviviality to be had by playing cricket that flows throughout the story. The jaunty rhyme reinforces this message.
The book ends with some upbeat talk about positivity and the importance of perseverance – cricket is a team game and even the celebrated and famous have known slumps and disappointments amidst their triumphs.
Just like sport itself, this book provides an opportunity for parents and educators to communicate some important life lessons, but it does so in such an engaging and light-hearted way that it will be sure to please children.
It’s a good book for sharing, but equally could reach some of those reluctant readers who will find here something they care about and which is part of their daily lives.
More of these are likely to follow, covering some of the many other popular sports we enjoy in Australia. That can only be a good thing for childhood literacy.
A free audio file is available at: https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/childrens/Cricket-I-Just-Love-It-Alister-Nicholson-illustrated-by-Tom-Jellett-9781760526801
Thanks Allen & Unwin for my review copy and Alister Nicholson for a great chat about the book and things sporting.