Thursday, November 21, 2013

A sport biography for children about one of New Zealand's most exciting league players

Stepping with Benji Marshall by David Riley

I came across this book while researching a sports' book I'm writing myself. And I have to say that I'm impressed. I am a sucker for biographies but I'm not a rugby/league sports fan (at all). Yet David Riley grabs me from the first page with rugby league player Benji Marshall's crowning moment winning the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. We read about Benji's 'stupefying sidestep', his 'phenomenal passing', 'sizzling speed' and his toughness; subtitles that will draw young boys to read further. Author David Riley knows what he is doing - he is a High school English and Drama teacher himself.

In the next chapter, David tells us about Benji's not ideal beginnings. His 16 year old mother brought Benji up along with the help of their whanau. Benji did not have a dad but he had 8+ uncles who took him under his wing. We find out that Benji was often over-looked for junior teams because of his small stature. He compensated by learning tricks; moves that would make him stand out from the other team players.

I like that David tells us about the whole person. Read the biography to find out what else Benji was talented in - you'll find them surprising (and refreshing). You'll also find out how he was selected for the big league, how he wasn't afraid to volunteer tricky moves - moves that helped his teams win against the odds. The wins are incredible culminating in Benji winning the biggest prize of all ...

To keep the book interesting for reluctant readers David keeps the chapters small, with punchy sub-headings, lots of photographs, quotes and breakouts such as commentaries on important moments in the game: Here's How it Went Down; and Did You Know Facts. At the back of the book is a bibliography so boys can read further about Benji and rugby league. Also an interesting page about how Benji is helping other people; visiting sick kids in hospital, starting a foundation, and being an inspiration to young players. There's even a page on what to do if you're facing challenges, plus a timeline.

The book is professionally designed by Tau Ceti One (I particularly like the type-set) and printed in New Zealand. You can buy a printed and digital version of the book.

Order directly from the author  davidrileynz@gmail.com
Cost: $20 plus postage and packaging: postage in NZ: 1- 4 copies $4.50 ; 5 -10 copies $5.50; postage to Australia: 1- 4 copies $5.50. 10% discount for orders of 20 or more
Electronic version can be purchased here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/364958

For teachers - David has written an English resource teaching metacognitive (learning to learn) strategies using articles about the All Black Team players, and another book for the Rugby League team. I write teaching resources and I can tell you these are first class. If you teach an all-boy class - you'll definitely want to download these AND THEY'RE FREE! David tells me he is writing something for girls and boys who are interested in other sports that aren't rugby or league. Go to his website http://readingwarrior.com/steppin-with-benji-marshall/ for some great reviews of his book, and find out what else David has written (a play, picture book, another biography - about Sonny Bill Williams). 

An excellent book that you'll want to buy for your class, school library or for the boy (or girl) who is a rugby league fanatic.

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