The Legend of SparkhillMartin Chandler |
Author: Ali, Moeen
Publisher: Fairfield Books
Rating: 3.5 stars
This one gave me all sorts of trouble when I was putting together my recent look forward at forthcoming titles. When I started work on that all I knew was that Tanya Aldred had been working with Moeen Ali, and a book was the result. I didn’t know what to think, given that Moeen’s autobiography appeared as recently as 2019. That said I still thought it had to be some sort of update to that.
Then I got an email from Fairfield Books. This made it look like a piece of children’s fiction, although I still wasn’t convinced, so I did what I always do when faced with such a dilemma and pinched the publisher’s own words, which described The Legend of Sparkhill as confronting many of the themes prevalent in today’s society – religion, racism, bullying, equality and diversity – and told with real passion and skill, it will be an inspiration for a generation of young schoolchildren as they make their way in the world.
I can’t say that filled me with great enthusiasm, and nor did the press release, although at least by describing Moeen as now children’s author it did at least make clear that the book’s target audience was youngsters, the sort of book I haven’t read for many a long year. But at least it is a slim small format volume so, my reasoning went, it shouldn’t take much more than half an hour to read it, and therefore I really shouldn’t get too sniffy about reviewing it.
The half hour time estimate proved to be just about right, but I have to admit it was as enjoyable a thirty minutes as I’ve spent in a long time. The story is a little ‘Boy’s Own’ , a comment which I appreciate will mean absolutely nothing to the book’s target audience, but it will to their grandparents who, I suspect, will get just as much pleasure from reading The Legend of Sparkhill as will those to whom they gift a copy.
Having rarely reviewed fiction before I am not at all sure what the appropriate approach to take to describing the content is, but on the basis that it surely can’t be right to give away too much of the plot, I’m going to rely on Fairfield again, and will lift this from their press release:-
Based around 12 year old Mo Aqeel, who lives for cricket, the book tells the story of how, along with his mates, his cricket club manages to beat the odds and make the final, but practice clashes with his Arabic class at the mosque. Young Mo has to take drastic action to fulfil his destiny ….
So there you have the synopsis, and a hugely entertaining story it is too, and without preaching, pontificating or politicking The Legend of Sparkhill also gets the authors’ message across on those crucial subjects of religion, racism, bullying, equality and diversity.