Book Review, Children's Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, Uncategorized

BOOK REVIEW: The Mighty Dynamo by Kieran Crowley

– Short Review –

This fast, funny book for readers of 7+ tells the classic tale of a team of misfits’ impossible rise to glory. It’s packed full of action and great characters as well as humour by the bucketful. It moves along at a terrific pace and would be a most welcome addition to any school library. In my opinion, there isn’t enough sports fiction for kids, which is why sporty kids often stop reading fiction. Give them this and they’ll be crying out for more. Illustrated by Marta Kissi, The Mighty Dynamo has all the pace of Messi and the style of Ronaldo. See what I did there!

– Long Review – 

Ever since reading Kieran Crowley’s debut, Colm and the Lazarus Key, I’ve been a fan, so I was delighted to receive The Mighty Dynamo to review. It’s a Middle Grade sports story about a boy called Noah Murphy who dreams of becoming a professional footballer. His chance comes when his school is entered in the Schools’ World Cup. Then, tragedy strikes, and Noah is kicked off the team for a crime he didn’t commit. Now, most kids would just accept the ruling, but not Noah. Using a loophole in the rules book, he sets up and enters his own team. But can Noah and his team of misfits pull off the impossible?

Guess you’ll have to read the book to find out!

My twenty years’ experience of teaching the age group that this book is aimed at, as well as having been a boy myself, has taught me that generally boys fall into two groups. And yes, I realise this is going to be a major generalisation, but bear with me. Group 1 are the popular, sporty kids, some readers, some not. Group 2 are the non-sporty, quirky, nerdy kids, some readers, some not. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but my guess is that most writers come from Group 2 and inevitably end up writing stuff that will appeal to Group 2 kids. This means there is a huge shortage of material for the Group 1 kids – books about sport and real life, because Group 1 kids mostly aren’t into the supernatural and dragons and space and monsters.

The Mighty Dynamo is just the sort of thing to fill this gap. And yes, I know there are plenty of sport-based books already, but in my opinion there’s not enough.

Like all great sports stories, there is a family drama or issue underpinning the plot, and in this case it is Noah’s impoverished circumstances. His mother is dead, his father has had to move to Australia for work, and his older sister has to work to keep bread on the table. All of this conveniently allows Noah to get up to his footballing antics and adventures without the interference of pesky parents.

The motley crew that Noah rounds up to enter the Schools’ World Cup are a diverse group of well-developed characters. And before you start thinking that this is a book full of boys, think again, because the story has some great female characters, too. Though I think it will mainly appeal to boys, and mainly to football fans, who will, I think, devour it.

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It has everything a football fan loves – kick by kick description of the big matches, hilarious football quotes at the beginning of each chapter, lots of references to stars of the soccer world, and even a team-sheet and stats at the end. The chapters are also interspersed with quirky player profiles, which are nice intervals from the story.

Although it’s about soccer, it’s essentially a tale about friendship, loyalty, family, and justice. It moves along at a nice pace and has plenty of funny moments to ease the tension. It has the sort of villains we love to hate and is written in a confident but accessible language that will appeal to even the most reluctant of readers. The wonderful black and white illustrations by Marta Kissi are (like the story) funny, loose and full of character.

So, it’s a big thumbs up from me. Football fans will love it. Non-football fans? I’m not too sure, though there was plenty to keep this Group 2, non-footballing reader interested.

A welcome addition to the book market. Go read it!  

The Mighty Dynamo is published by Macmillan Children’s Books and is available here.

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Kieran Crowley

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Kieran Crowley is from Cork in Ireland. His first book, Colm & the Lazarus Key was shortlisted for the Bisto Children’s Book of the Year Award 2010 and was followed by a sequel, Colm & The Ghost’s Revenge. His new book The Mighty Dynamo was published in 2016.

You can find out more about Kieran’s books and buy them here.

Reviewed by Kieran Fanning, click on his name to go to his website all about his amazing books.

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