Book Club: Grace On The Court

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Author: Maddy Proud
ISBN: 9781760640330
RRP: $14.99
Publisher: Black Inc. Books
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

I have a family full of boys, with a couple of token girls, so I have noticed that there are lots of sporting books for young boys. There’s basketball, soccer, football and cricket – and they’re just the ones I’ve bought. I haven’t noticed a lot for girls but I have to admit that I haven’t really been looking.

Children can be so super active and a lot of the time the really active kids can think of nothing worse than being tied to one spot reading a book. I think that if you can offer these children a book about the sport they are passionate about it can ignite a love of reading, or at least make them more likely to actually sit and read. Most of the sporting books I have come across in the last couple of years have been written by prominent sportspeople and that makes them more appealing, people spot a recognisable name on the cover and pick it up.

An athlete playing sport at an elite level is well placed to be able to write about their sport because they are sure to have that depth of knowledge and firsthand experience that you can’t get from research alone. Yes, they are sure to know their sport in and out and to be playing at an elite level I would think they would know a lot about the whole game and not just their position but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will translate to the page.

Maddy Proud is a former Adelaide Thunderbirds netballer who now plays for the NSW Swifts and she has penned the tale of Grace Palmer, a 13-yr old netball nerd heading into high school. She is passionate about netball, and not just playing. She likes to know all about the game, break down the stats and she loves to watch professional netballers in action.

Grace is heading into high school with her two best friends, Mia and Stella, and her twin brother Angus who is just as sports-mad but his game of choice is AFL. The three girls have been playing netball together for years and can’t wait to start playing in their high school team, except it’s all a little nerve-wracking this year because the start of high school means an influx of netballers that they spent their primary school years playing against.

Netball is the main focus of Grace on the Court, the game is present in every chapter as the girls try out for their high school team, wait for selections and then have to learn to work together in a brand new team. There are some great descriptive passages offering blow by blow commentary of games that are well written and entertaining, sure to thrill the netball fans. The girls head out to watch a Thunderbirds game so we get a bit of a blow by blow of that one too. Proud also talks quite a bit about training, the hard slog but also the importance of a great coach and one who remembers that the main reason most children get involved in a sport is for fun.

The girls are 13 years old so even though they may be netball mad there is a lot more than that going on in their lives. It’s the beginning of high school with all of its challenges; new school, new classes, new team mates and a shift in priorities that comes with growing up. There is also the exciting upcoming competition that will allow one group of fans to go see boy band Friday @ Five in their home city.

Proud insightfully explores the shifting dynamics that come with starting high school, the difficulties that arise when girls from opposing teams find themselves competing for spots on the same team, and how they have to navigate being team mates after years as arch enemies. It’s not always an easy transition and alongside it all is the burgeoning awareness of boys as more than just friends, family dynamics, schoolyard gossip and the need to juggle schoolwork, social life and training schedule.

Grace on the Court would make a great starting point that follows Grace and her friends right through their high school playing careers and beyond. I’m not sure if this is set to be a series but I think it would be fun to follow Grace further than just year 8; it would be great to find out how things all pan out.

The characters are 13 but I think this would be appropriate for slightly younger children as well, though probably not too much younger as the girls are starting to discover boys and develop their first crushes. Ultimately this is a tale of friendship and netball in almost even doses with family issues as a sideline. It was engaging, entertaining and fun. A great debut by the multi-talented Maddy Proud.

Grace on the Court is book #8 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.

Maddy Proud can be followed on Twitter.

Grace on the Court is published by Black Inc. Books and is available through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Black Inc. Books 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club members and their children will be reading Grace on the Court and I look forward to hearing what they think, and our reviews may be written by our young readers.

10 thoughts on “Book Club: Grace On The Court

  1. Well, that was just like revisiting high school. Boys, netball, boy bands and new friends. Pity mine wasn’t as exciting as in this book. A very enjoyable read.
    I will get my daughter to read this when she is old enough to understand the storyline. I am sure she will enjoy it, just as I have.
    Thank you, Beauty and lace bookclub.

  2. My young niece who is 11 also read this book and she says Thankyou
    Jessica ( niece ) throughly enjoyed reading this book as I did
    The story tells of 3 best friends about to start high school, and as we all know high school is totally different to primary school,
    The 3 friends are all into netball and have to learn to play as a group with previous arch rivals, the netball team has a great coach who is very encouraging not just about winning games but having fun as well,
    This book is not just about netball but also boys, boy bands, and families
    This book is really well written and young girls are going to love reading this book,
    Hopefully Maddy Proud will write another book continuing on with Gracie and her friends

  3. Thanks to Piccolo Nero, Maddy Proud and Beauty and Lace for the copy of Grace on the Court.

    The book centres around three girls entering high school, navigating the high school systems and merging with rivals from other primary schools.

    This story took me back to high school and captured the essence and importance of friendship, sportsmanship and relationships. The depth of empathy Grace showed toward others is a good reminder for everyone. Her reflection of group dynamics and wanting the best out of her netball team was admirable in a young character.

    The story was easy to follow and I have no hesitation passing it on to an 11 year old girl who is soon at the brink of leaving primary school for high school next year.

  4. Boy bands, netball, new school and new friends still the same dramas as when I was at school 20 year ago, except with no internet! A great little read that my 13 year old thoroughly enjoyed, She loved the netball references and could relate to the nervousness of starting highschool, as for the boyband, at the moment she has no interest in them but she was intrigued at how some girls can get so fixated by them.
    A great read though I do believe my 11 year old would enjoy it more!

  5. Very enjoyable and easy read. Will be recommending this to my 12yr old niece who’s just started high school this year and also plays netball. Great novel for young readers. Took me back to high school. Boy bands, boys and friends.

  6. My daughter Ruby (age 9) read this book and found it an easy read, it did take her 2 weeks but she is still quite young. She said Grace Parker went from primary school to high school with her 2 bffs Mia and Stella. She has a rival called Amber who she learns to tolerate. Her bffs supprt her during the book by telling her to ignore Amber and building her confidence. She found a few rude words like ‘shit ‘ which she thought was hilarious. There’s talk of boys and of course netball too I haven’t read this book myself but Ruby enjoyed it and gives it 5/5 stars. Her friend who’s 10 is reading this book next. Thanks for the review Beauty & Lace

  7. I gave this to my 12 year old who is in Grade 6. She found this to be a funny and realistic book which was written in a way which she felt very much attuned to the characters. Reading a couple of chapters myself, there was good character development, easy to follow story line and plot. Whilst I could guess where this was going, for the age group it targets this is a great book and entertaining!

    Love, lies, the trials and tribulations of school and netball all neatly wrapped up into a great little read. I have passed this now to my 10 year old who is also having a great time reading this.

    Not sure it would appeal to my 14 year old but will give it a go!

  8. I found this book very enjoyable and quite relatable. I am currently a student in high school and find that even though I don’t have a love for netball I can relate to the book. The friendships, boy troubles and nerves of beginning high school are all very realistic and create an entertaining read. As for boy bands I do not have a love for them, but I am sure on one of my friends would be able to relate to Grace’s (main character) love for boy bands.

    I would recommend this book to girls who are starting high school as it is something that they can very easily relate to and may find comforting if starting high school is daunting to them.

  9. A great little book taking the reader along for a ride through Grace’s transition from primary school to first year high school. A mix of sport, friendships, music and boys. It certainly took me back to a time when netball, my friends & boys were, at times, all consuming. I passed the book on to my daughter who read it in a couple of nights and enjoyed it…her review below

    As a 13 year old girl starting high school, I found this book very relatable. From the netball trials to the school enemies, Starting high school can be very daunting and difficult to form new friendships.

    I would recommend this book for 9-13yo. Overall an entertaining book for anyone looking for an easy read while relaxing in bed,

  10. I got my 12 year old niece to read this for me. She totally enjoyed it and said she would like to read more like it

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