Extra Time by Morris Gleitzman

extraSome writers are very prolific – with the ability to produce many engaging books in their lifetime. Morris Gleitzman is such an author, with over 30 books to his name.

Extra Time is his latest book, in which Gleitzman reverts back to his humorous style, (after his more intense real-life ‘Once’ series), looking into the world of soccer. Young readers will enjoy this one!

Bridie tells the story, beginning with an indication that there has been sadness in the life of their family. Now, both her and her older brother live a somewhat protected existence after a tragic car accident. This accident killed their twin brothers, resulted in pins in Matt’s legs, and lots of cotton-wooling from their parents. Bridie’s asthma is another thing which her parents worry about, which also causes a little bit of grief from time to time.

However, Matt still has exceptional soccer skills, in spite of the accident, and in many ways playing soccer is his life. His dedicated sister, Bridie, affirms this, as she sees herself as the future manager of his international soccer career. A confrontation with the bullies in his country town one day (which leads him into dire straits), sets a changed course for both Matt and Bridie when it is captured on TV cameras.

Gleitzman likes to write for children. And though Extra Time is a more humorous book, it also deals with some serious issues. Both Matt and Bridie struggle with the protectiveness of their parents, as shown by Bridie’s dream:

“There’s bubble wrap round my legs. And my arms. And my chest.
Matt’s not much better off. His soccer shirt and shorts are made of cotton wool.” p.25

When researching for the book, Morris also dug into the world of the Premier League and soccer scouts and talent searches. He considers the sacrifices of families for junior stars, and the impacts of this on family life.

“My main interest is taking stories into the places in life internally; in terms of emotion, in terms of hopes, dreams, fears, ambitions, that are most important to young readers… those most important aspects of the inner world are also most important aspects of adult’s inner world as well so we are talking about fairly universal stuff here. [though kid’s life experiences are limited].” excerpt from an ABC interview at: http://blogs.abc.net.au/queensland/2013/07/morris-gleitzman.html

In Gleitzman’s usual style, there are some surprising situations Matt and Brydie find themselves in – including travel overseas with their uncle,  Brydie making a spectacle of herself at a major soccer game and Matt playing soccer on a council estate with a professional player. Lots of fun and thought in this latest release, which will be enjoyed by soccer fanatics and fans of Morris Gleitzman alike.

If you would like a taste of Extra Time, follow this link where you can read the first chapter, or have it read to you by the author himself!

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