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The Dream Team: Jaz Santos vs. the World (The Dream Team, 1)

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The story itself is pleasant enough, and there are some great, age-appropriate explorations of sexism—such as Jaz’s school giving all their sports budget to the boys’ team with nothing for the girls, the boys’ coach refusing to help train the girls, and the boys themselves not wanting to share training spaces. The text is made up of sentences with up to three clauses, introducing first conditional, past continuous and present perfect simple for general experience. This book teaches children to follow their dreams no matter what life can throw at them, a heartfelt book that sends out an inspiring message! the tricky subject of parental separation with grace, offering fictional scenarios which entertained as well as subtly pointing the way for young people to help build their resiliency.

And of course, the message that girls can do anything is an absolutely great one, and I loved seeing the Bramrock Stars proving girls can play football too. Telling the rags-to-riches tale of Bramrock Primary's first girls' football team, the novel is full of diverse characters who break plenty of sterotypes. Jaz is finding school difficult and is being labeled a troublemaker, but things are also difficult for her at home because her parents are fighting a lot. Ultimately I decided it would be too mean to knock it down, particularly since it should be noted that I am not the target audience for this book.I related to many of Jaz’s worries, like the nagging feeling we’re not good enough or that we are responsible for other peoples’ emotions.

It shows a team of girls who care about each other and support each other, despite their many differences. If you have a child in your life who really loves football/soccer, you could gift them this book, as I think it will be enjoyable for them even if I didn't love it. It truthfully explores the sexism in society and schools, whereby boys get all the football equipment, time and investment, showing how girls are shut out of sport from the earliest age.For example, there is zero funding and resources for the girl’s football team because all the money is invested in the boys’ team. While this isn’t a book that is likely to become a new classic, Sophie would still recommend it to young readers, especially sports fans, and she still plans to pick up the next book in the series to see how the Bamrock Stars story continues. By clearly listing the financial barriers girls and women face, Mante paints a realistic world and provides relatable solutions. The boys in Jaz’ class were threatened by a girl who is talented at football and many of the teachers had no interest in helping the girls to get funding or even training for their team. I have read my fair share of middle grades and I can now tell when the authors know how to talk like, about and to children and when they do not.

Mante shows that young girls need support and belief from the adults around them, as well as belief in themselves, to excel. The plot overall was a pretty standard sports fiction plot, with the addition of some other themes, but I don't think they were handled particularly well. It is an important message for all of us: to believe in our excellence and undeniable talent even when the systems in which we work to be accepted continuously attempt to deny and refuse us. She spent several years delivering arts, literacy and cultural programmes to young people and currently works in corporate communications.Since Goodreads doesn't allow half stars, I went back and forth for ages trying to decide whether to knock it down to a 3 or boost it up to a 4. The empowerment for girls/women, the building of unlikely friendships, the tackling of tough issues and a whole heap of laughs! But after a shaky start, seven very different personalities to manage, and no one at school taking the girls' team seriously, football stardom feels a long way off. It’s a fantastic story, showing kids they shouldn’t give up on their dreams, especially when they are discouraged by people with outdated ideas on what girls and boys can and can’t do. Her greatest goal in life is to play for England but for now she has to get through Year 6, while everything in her life is going wrong.

Ten-year-old Jaz feels her best playing football (soccer), and she's sure that if she can start her own girl's team and win the under-11s championship, it'll bring her recently-separated parents back together for sure. I celebrated with these characters, was saddened by their setbacks and motivated by their determination. The girls pull together, with all their different ways of looking at life, and start to believe that they're worthy of winning. Jaz’s mum, from Angola, and her father, from Scotland, no longer get on – and when her mum nearly burns the house down, her parents decide it is time for Mum to move out. Now I’ve got a team of seven very different girls and we need to work together, to be taken seriously as footballers.I believe this was a debut, so maybe in the future this aspect will get better; I don't think I will be reading the other books in this companion series, but I really believe there's room for improvement. Faced with all these problems, Jaz finds solace and comfort in putting her energy into football, the place where she can forget about her problems. I am incredibly thankful to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Children’s UK for my chance to read an ARC of this book and I am excited to continue this series in future.

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