Kickoff

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Overview

Tyra Fraser hates her life. A family move from sunny Florida to an army base in the cold north of England leaves her lonely and angry. Outgoing Tyra hopes to fit in by playing soccer for the school team, but the girls' team is terrible, and the coach is too focused on the boys' team to do anything about it. Tyra wants to turn things around, but before she can do that, she has to get her teammates to take her advice—and they won't even talk to her!

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Overview

Tyra Fraser hates her life. A family move from sunny Florida to an army base in the cold north of England leaves her lonely and angry. Outgoing Tyra hopes to fit in by playing soccer for the school team, but the girls' team is terrible, and the coach is too focused on the boys' team to do anything about it. Tyra wants to turn things around, but before she can do that, she has to get her teammates to take her advice—and they won't even talk to her!

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Children's Literature

Overall it is a strong choice for reluctant readers and those seeking an action-packed plot.

VOYA - Erin Wyatt
Moving to England from Tampa Bay, Florida, Tyra leaves behind her best friend, Lacey, and her beloved soccer team. Lacey is present throughout the story through the text of e-mail messages. Adjustments to the new school and culture do not go smoothly at first for Tyra. When Tyra finds out about soccer team tryouts, however, her outlook improves. Not only does Tyra make the team that failed to win a game the year before, but she also becomes the captain, despite all the attempts of Alicia, the star player, to exclude and sabotage her. Nearly every character who supports Tyra gives her the same advice, "You go, girl!" Tyra has a sister with a vague combination of attention deficit disorder and autism who is used to introduce a plot twist or two, but as is the case with many of the supporting characters, she is never well-developed. The book is fairly predictable and formulaic, with the girls having trouble jelling as a team, Alicia trying to sabotage Tyra, and the girls finally coming together to meet the challenge of the big, championship game. All that being said, it is a satisfying, feel-good, quick read. This book is a solid choice for girl sports fans. With its large font and readability, it would be good for reluctant readers.
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Sulock
Tyra Fraser has just moved from Tampa, Florida, to England—turning her life into a metaphorical hurricane. Not only is she starting at a strange new school and has to make all new friends, she has to prove herself on the soccer field. Tyra's new soccer team is on a real loosing streak and Alicia, Tyra's antagonist teammate, is a character straight from the movie Mean Girls, making Tyra's transition even more challenging—and making the quick plot a true kickoff. Part of a series featuring strong female roles, King highlights issues young readers can identify with, such as struggling parent-child relationships and a younger sister who has Attention Deficit Disorder. The text's only downfall may be that it does not accurately portray life in England, and the British characters speak something akin to American Standard English. But overall it is a strong choice for reluctant readers and those seeking an action-packed plot.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780753460825
  • Publisher: Kingfisher
  • Publication date: 1/22/2007
  • Pages: 168
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 640L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.54 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Donna King is the alter ego of Jenny Oldfield, a best-selling author of children's series fiction, including the Horses of Half-Moon Ranch series. More than one million copies of her books have been sold around the world.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Hey, Lacey,

How are you doing, babe? How's Tampa Bay without me? How's the beach?

And have you been down to the mall today? Did you check out the guys like we usually do—or like we usually did, should I say?

Tyra Fraser tapped away at the keyboard furiously. In her head she could picture sunshine and a blue sea. Outside her window she saw wet, gray clouds, gray slate roofs, and a muddy gray river.

Oh gosh, you don't know how much I miss Florida, she wrote. England stinks. Specifically Yorkshire—specifically Fernbridge!

How come you get to have a dad who runs a pizza place in the best shopping mall in the entire world and I have an army sergeant father who gets sent here? How dumb is that?

I mean, it's September, for God's sake, and it's freezing!!!!

Tomorrow I go to my new school. I am seriously gonna hate it, for sure.

Write me a long e-mail, Lacey. Give me your news, or I'll go crazy.

From your totally, 110 percent miserable friend,

Tyra!!!! xxxx

"Tyra, honey, could you come down?"

Tyra trailed downstairs to the tiny kitchen in the poky house they now called home.

"I need to iron your dad's shirts. Can you watch Shirelle?"

"I'll take her for a walk," Tyra said. Looking after her five-year-old, hyperactive kid sister in a space the size of a closet was asking for trouble. "C'mon,

Shirry, let's go!"

No sooner did Tyra speak than the two girls were out on the main street,

heading for the park. They walked hand in hand past the butcher's shop and the grocery store, down the hill, and over the old stone bridge. Shirelle pulled on Tyra's arm to stop her so that they could stand and stare at the flotilla of ducks swimming underneath the arch. She wanted to dash across the road to see them come out the other side, but Tyra held her back—luckily,

because, just then, a guy on a motorcycle whizzed past.

This is one hick town! Tyra thought. One main road. One bus stop. One play area with swings and a rickety jungle gym. A few kids messed around in the park, kicking a ball and yelling.

"Push me!" Shirelle demanded, plonking herself on the closest swing. "I

wanna fly! Push harder!"

"Hold tight," Tyra warned. She felt spots of cold rain on her face and looked up at the steep hill that rose almost sheer out of the narrow valley. A thick mist rolled toward them.

"Cool!" Shirelle squealed, her pink fluorescent sweater standing out against her light brown skin. Shirelle was the most colorful thing around, forming a bright downward arc in the dull air. She was into wild movement—running,

leaping, splashing, yelling. She wasn't into sitting still, and boy, was she going to be a handful in her new school. Tyra was glad she wouldn't be there to see it. Instead, she'd be at the junior high school just down the road, along with a dozen other U.S. Army kids whose parents worked at the early-

warning base out on the Yorkshire moors.

"Watch out!" a voice called.

She turned from the swings in time to see a ball flying toward her. It was going to be a direct hit on Shirelle, but at the last second Tyra jumped up and headed it to one side. The ball bounced away harmlessly.

A boy came running to get it. "Neat," he said with a surprised grin. "That was a cool header."

"Yeah, thanks."

Quickly, the kid picked up his ball and ran off.

For a while, Tyra watched them play. Now, soccer! she thought, once more remembering the Astroturf with the Florida sun beating down, Lacey in midfield neatly passing her the ball so that she could forge ahead past defenders and blast the ball past the goalkeeper and into the net. Soccer is the one good thing about England! After all, it's the home of the greatest game in the world!

"Higher!" Shirelle demanded, pushing with her feet and kicking her legs. "Tyra, make me fly!"

Hey, girl! Lacey e-mailed back later that evening. This does not sound like the Tyra I know! What's with the misery, dude? Where's the go-getting, world-

beating kid that I remember?

Seriously, though, is it really that bad?

Okay, so the weather's not exactly wall-to-wall sunshine over there, but they have cool music, don't they? And you get to watch English soccer—Chelsea,

Manchester United, Liverpool!

Yesterday I played striker for the Tampa Bay Butterflies—your old position.

We won three–zero. I scored two of the goals. I know that sounds like we're not missing you, but we are—big-time! The girls said to say hi!

Okay, gotta go now, Tyra. Lots of luck tomorrow at the new school. Go, girl!

Love you—Lacey xxx

Walking into a place for the first time was always hard, Tyra told herself. The big glass entrance was buzzing with kids in uniforms, which was the weirdest thing. At her school in Florida, everyone had been able to wear whatever they wanted. Here, the boys wore dark green blazers and gray pants—trousers,

Tyra thought, correcting herself. The girls wore white shirts and ties, with the same blazers as the boys. But they did the fashion thing with their skirts,

wearing them short or long, narrow or wide, with their ties knotted loosely to show the top shirt button. Self-consciously, Tyra fiddled to loosen her own tie.

The corridor ahead was wide and crowded.

"Walk—don't run!" the teachers shouted. But the kids ignored them. They slung their bags inside their lockers, staring at Tyra and, by the scornful looks on their faces, giving her seriously low marks out of ten.

What's up? Do I have two heads? She glared back at a fair-haired girl who was giving her the evil eye.

"Are you the new girl?" the kid asked, looking like she was sucking on lemons. "It's time for attendance. Miss Jenkins said to get you."

Tyra nodded. Her long hair swung forward as she stooped to dump her bag inside a low locker. "Hey, I'm Tyra," she announced as she stood up straight. "I'm from Tampa, Florida."

The girl stared.

What did I say—that I came from Mars? Tyra wondered, already crushed.

It got worse as she was led into the classroom. There, 30 heads turned.

Thirty faces stared. Thirty classmates seemingly wrote her off.

"There's an empty desk here at the front," the teacher told her without looking up. "Thank you for that, Alicia. Please be sure to show Tyra around for the rest of the day."

At the back of the room, Alicia leaned over from her desk and muttered darkly to her friends. At the front, Tyra swallowed hard and tried not to notice.

"Mikey Swales has got the hots for you, Alicia!"

"No way!"

"He does. He told me!"

"When?"

"At morning break. He asked me to tell you."

Tyra stood to one side of the group of girls who were giggling in the playground. She shivered in the cold wind. Already she'd been told to tie her hair back by the assistant principal and yelled at for not paying attention during math. The day was turning out even worse than she'd imagined.

"Anyway, Emma, you can tell Mikey that I'm not interested," Alicia scoffed. "I

wouldn't be seen dead with a weedy little geek like him."

Tyra winced. Poor Mikey!

"He's not a geek," a girl named Molly protested. She was tall, like Alicia, and seemed more likely to stand up to her than Emma, who was Little Miss

Mouse. "He plays on the boys' soccer team for a start."

"Well, Molly, you go out with him, then," Alicia shot back, making a beeline for one of the teachers on duty.

"It's not me who he's got the hots for!" Molly laughed, dragging Tyra along with the crowd.

"Hey, sir!" Alicia yelled.

The teacher took no notice, but walked on with his green fleece jacket zipped up to his chin, cradling a mug of coffee between both hands.

Alicia went after him. "Mr. Gray, we want to talk to you about the under-

thirteen girls' soccer team!"

Soccer! Tyra's ears pricked up.

With a pained expression, the gym teacher turned. "Ah, yes, the under-

thirteen girls. The magnificent eleven who were the under-twelves last year and didn't manage a single victory during all of last season!"

"That's because you concentrated too much on the boys!" Alicia reminded him. "You never gave us any real coaching."

Mr. Gray was obviously way past his sell-by date, Tyra decided. And he looked it, with his gray hair draped over his head to disguise his big bald patch, and his eye bags, and his belly hanging over his belt.

"Ah, the boys who won the English Schools Football Association Coca-Cola

Cup!" he reminded Alicia. "That was the remarkably talented team I wasted so much time on last year!"

"Ha-ha, very funny, sir!" Alicia frowned. "Anyway, this year we want real coaching. Molly wants to go in goal, and Emma wants to be midfield defense. I'm a center forward—the main goal scorer!"

Yeah, why am I not surprised? Tyra thought. Alicia Webb had already gotten under her skin, and it was only day one. Back home in Florida, Tyra had been the top goal scorer of the Tampa Bay Butterflies.

Mr. Gray sipped his coffee and shook his head. "I don't have anyone in the department who's interested in coaching you girls, I'm afraid."

"But that's not fair," Molly pointed out. "My mum says it's discrimination, and it's not allowed!"

Right on! Tyra thought.

"Whoa!" The teacher took a step back. "Quite the little feminist, aren't we,

Molly Thomas?" His eye fell on a fellow member of staff who was patrolling the playground. He gave a cynical chuckle. "Then again, it doesn't have to be a member of the sports staff, does it? It could be, for instance, an English teacher!"

While Alicia shrugged at Molly and Emma, Mr. Gray beckoned to the passing teacher.

"Mr. Wheeler, just the man for the job!" he announced. "I know you're new to

Fernbridge and you haven't gotten properly settled in yet, but I hear through the grapevine that you're the proud possessor of a Football Association coaching diploma!"

Blushing, the young teacher nodded. "Soccer's my thing," he acknowledged.

"He's young!" Alicia muttered.

"And cute!" Emma pointed out.

"Shut up and listen!" Molly told them.

Mr. Gray seized his chance. "Luck is on your side, girls! Mr. Wheeler here is a soccer coach. I'm sure he'd be willing to take on you girls!"

"Um—um—I would?" The chosen candidate seemed unsure.

"You would!" Mr. Gray insisted. "So, Mr. Wheeler, meet Alicia Webb, Molly

Thomas, and Emma Dean, who will be the key players on your new team."

He turned to Tyra with a vague look. "And you are …?"

"Tyra Fraser," she stammered.

The shy new teacher smiled at the shy new student.

"Ignore her. She's from America. She doesn't play soccer," Alicia broke in as

Mr. Gray walked off.

She does, actually! Tyra protested silently. And she's good, if you only cared to ask!

The English teacher looked down at Alicia. "Actually, I hear they play a lot of soccer at U.S. schools," he said.

Tyra nodded, but still couldn't speak. No, this was not a good start to her new school career.

"Oh, and good luck, Mr. Wheeler," Mr. Gray called from a distance. "Believe me, with these girls, you're going to need it!"

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 7, 2010

    SCORE!

    I am a teen and I have read this book. Along with many other young adult books. This book is a nice book to read when you have spare time. Its interesting and shows how if you be youself, you will make more friends!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 2, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for TeensReadToo.com

    Tyra's an Army brat, and her father has been relocated to England. Now she's leaving her best friend behind and must start over again. <BR/><BR/>On the first day of school, she meets Alicia. Instantaneously, Alicia feels threatened and uses her popularity to make Tyra miserable. <BR/><BR/>When she hears about the school soccer team, Tyra perks up. She thinks it might be a way to fit in. Unfortunately, Alicia was the star of last year's team. But as the season goes on, it's clear that was last year, and this year, Tyra is shinning. Can two stars be on the same team? <BR/><BR/>The tension of the book comes on the soccer field between the two fighting stars. They're winning without using teamwork, but as they encounter better teams they need to start working together. With a championship at stake, can the rivalry between Alicia and Tyra take a backseat to sports? <BR/><BR/>Once again, Donna King takes an every day issue and uses it to highlight a sporting drama.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2008

    This book is amazing!

    This book is awesome.I am a soccer player so i love this book.This book talks about a girl who move to Englad(home of soccer.)And has trouble fitting in because she is American. I would So recomend this book to soccer players

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2008

    Fabulous Book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!=D

    I'm not going to give away the WHOLE book,because then, there would be no point in reading it(which you really should)! I'm NOT a soccer fan, infact, I fall asleep when I watch the game! But, this book kept me on the edge of my seat so well, that I finished in one night. Kickoff sends a good message that everyone has a sob story for why they're mean, and if you comfort them , they'll be a lot nicer to everone. This is a wonderful book, and I reccomend it to anyone with an IQ over .5, which is everyone who can read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2008

    great

    my friend said it was a great book she reading it again i i sadi to my self im going to read it to and all her other friends said it was the best book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    a reviewer

    Tyra¿s an Army brat, and her father has been relocated to England. Now she¿s leaving her best friend behind and must start over again. On the first day of school, she meets Alicia. Instantaneously, Alicia feels threatened and uses her popularity to make Tyra miserable. When she hears about the school soccer team, Tyra perks up. She thinks it might be a way to fit in. Unfortunately, Alicia was the star of last year¿s team. But as the season goes on, it¿s clear that was last year, and this year, Tyra is shinning. Can two stars be on the same team? The tension of the book comes on the soccer field between the two fighting stars. They¿re winning without using teamwork, but as they encounter better teams they need to start working together. With a championship at stake, can the rivalry between Alicia and Tyra take a backseat to sports? Once again, Donna King takes an every day issue and uses it to highlight a sporting drama. **Reviewed by: Jennifer Rummel

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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