Reviews /

All to Play For

Authored by Eve Ainsworth
Illustrated by Kirsti Beautyman
Published by Barrington Stoke Ltd

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All to Play For: Grief can be a double-edged sword, cutting deep and having long-term effects on the entire family. Lewis looks a lot like his Dad, a man he never got to know before he died playing football. While it was actually a weak heart, not the game, Lewis’s mum has always blamed the sport.

Lewis has taken to hiding his ball and practising when she is at work so as not to upset her further. This summer, Lewis’s friends are attending Ace Academy and while Lewis would love to attend, his mum’s issues with the game and a lack of money make it impossible.

One afternoon while practising, Ash discovers just how talented Lewis is. Ash runs Ace Academy and makes the family an offer they can’t refuse – Lewis can work for his place at the academy. Lewis is thrilled, and his true skills and sportsmanship shine through. Will it all be enough to help Mum deal with her grief?

A formidable story packed with emotions, characters we can relate to and situations that we might find ourselves in. Empathy is understanding how others feel, seeing situations from a different perspective and shared emotions. Lewis and his mum both want Lewis to be happy but they will need to understand each other and learn to share their feelings and be willing to listen.

I was crying at the end of this story, mostly happy tears but tinged with sadness over the grief they now share together. A beautiful heartfelt story – for upper KS2 and KS3 readers –  where grief is a palpable, living being in the home and the family need to address this, not ignore it, which is something that will challenge them.

Read for Empathy Collection 2023

This collection is available from our bookselling partner Best Books for Schools