on 4 March 2009
This is the third book by Allan Ahlberg that contains poetry on the theme of primary school life. As with the other two books, there are engaging illustrations by Fritz Wegner. This book appeared in 2001, 12 years after the superb 'Heard it in the Playground'. Unlike the other two incredibly successful books, this one does not reflect the many and varied aspects of life in a primary school but appears stuck in the mud of a wet football pitch and contains only one theme - school football matches.
There was a superb poem in Ahlberg's book in 1989 entitled 'Kicking a Ball' but unfortunately none of the poems in this book match up to that excellent offering - hence the lower rating for this book. The other two poetry books, to use a footballing metaphor, are premiership matches but this book is a non-league game and has many weak inclusions such as three named 'Team Talk' which are all simply too true and accurate to be funny because they are not a refined reflection or parody but are a simple mirror image which was not the reason for the success of the first two books.
Fortunately, there are some excellent poems such as 'Mr Bloor' and 'The Song of the Sub'. However, the book lacks variety due to its single theme and it would benefit from a really memorable poem such as 'Football Story' which is a cumulative poem that is popular in schools. It is in the style of 'This is the House that Jack built' and begins:
"This is the foot.
This is the foot
That kicked the ball.
This is the foot
That kicked the ball
And scored the goal................"
The inclusion of a really catchy rhyme such as this classic poem would have redeemed this worthy, but ultimately disappointing, book. A recommended alternative would be 'Football Fever' by John Foster.