Billy Slater Presents Try Time
Random House, 2014
pbk., 144pp., RRP $12.99
The 2014 rugby league season is gathering momentum and here is a great new series to tempt your rugby league fans into reading as well as playing. It focuses on the West Hill Ravens, a local team just starting their new season and comprising kids from all backgrounds, demonstrating that this is a game for all. In the team, Josh Brown has the potential to be a star player – he has the speed and the skills of a winger, but he is also cursed with nerves. Every time he steps on the field the butterflies in his tummy take over and when he fails to score an easy try in that first match, he thinks of giving it away altogether. He feels he has let his team down, himself down, and most critically, his grandfather who is football mad and screams encouragement from the sideline each time.
But then, NRL legend Billy Slater turns up at training one day – can he help Josh overcome those nerves? Written with action-packed descriptions of games, good advice and a likeable lad who many will empathise with this is a book worth promoting and building up anticipation in time for its release date of May 1, 2014. In the introduction, Slater emphasises that while playing well is important, it’s more about being part of a team, feeling you belong, having fun and enjoying what you’re doing because that’s when you’re at you’re best. But, at the same time, understanding that there are times when things won’t go your way and you have to have what it takes to work through that. It’s about being resilient, forgiving yourself and digging deep to keep going. A strong message indeed from someone who is a hero for so many. And apart from that there are several pages of tips that the reader can think about to improve their own game.
Try Time is the first in this series – Banana Kick will also be published on May 1. It focuses on Junior Taafuli, nicknamed Cannonball the biggest player in the West Hill Ravens, who thinks he is only valued for his size. Again Slater steps in to help him learn a life lesson.
While the content alone of these books is likely to make them appealing to younger readers, it is the endorsement by Billy Slater that sets them apart from others of a similar theme, giving them a strength because they show reluctant readers that their heroes do read and write; that reading is a cool, in thing to do and it’s possible to combine football and reading. Perhaps we should ask the publishers for a poster of Billy reading this title to reinforce that message!