Trying Out for The Team (School Yard Fiction 2)
Trying-out for the Team
It was a hot sticky day in early February, and Jonah waved his hand at a fly as he stood on the athletics field. Jonah knew he was a fast runner, and he had always wanted to represent his school at sport, but there were many bigger, stronger kids. This year, though, he was a year four and he was determined to make it into the team.
The Coach called his name, and Jonah skipped across to the starting line to join three other boys. There were two spare places in the team, and four boys were trying out. The maths was not good – two boys would get into the team, and two others would be left out! Some of the big kids had won events last year, and others excelled at special things like hurdles and long jumps, or discus throwing. Those kids were guaranteed their places in this year’s team.
Coach blew a whistle and dropped his hand at the same time. Jonah knew this was the signal to begin to run. Jonah ran hard down the track and around the oval. He knew that this was a distance event - the eight hundred meters - and he should pace himself, but he could not help it. He wanted to be out in the front of the runners. Around and around the runners went. Jonah kept his place in the lead, but he could feel the other runners thumping the grass behind him. One of them was about to get past and take the lead, and Jonah pushed himself into a dizzying spurt of speed.
It was then that it happened. A tree root, which Coach would later dig out of the grass, caught Jonah by the toe and tripped him. Jonah fell onto the grass, scaping his leg and bumping his nose. Jonah was frightened and hurt, but he would not let himself give up the race. He put his hands on the ground in front of him, braced himself and sprang into the air. His feet hit the ground already running. Two other boys were ahead of him and he chased their backs.
Jonah caught and over-took one boy. He was thrilled, and it helped him know he was going fast enough, but the finish line was too close, and no-matter how hard Jonah tried, he could not get past the other boy in time. He finished second. It was enough to get him on the team, but it wasn’t what he had wanted. After trying so hard, he had wanted to show everybody that he could win.
Coach was pleased, however. The tall man clapped and handed Jonah a sheet full of results. “You did not finish first Jonah,” Coach said, “but you did your very best. I will be proud to have you on the team this year!”
Then Jonah went to see the School Nurse to have some antiseptic and a band-aid put on his scratch. Now that he was not puffing so hard, he too knew he had done well. Not many other people could fall over during a race and still earn a place in the team!
Exercise is healthy.
- It strengthens the immune system, promotes healthy function of the circulatory and respiratory system and promotes the development of healthy bones.
- Sports are a huge part of school life. They are a great way to mix and make friends. Games also allow for personal achievement and self expression.
- Children who enjoy sports may also enjoy reading about them, thus linking their physical, mental and social development.
Beast Quest Series
The Beast Quest series by Adam Blade is suitable for ages 8-12. The books are popular at the moment, with stores such as Dymocks holding "Tournament days" and special promotions.
The books show some variation in quality and style, despite being written by the one author.
- For example, Torgor: the minator reads like a dodgy role playing game with a series of encounters with random perils and beasts. It is not particularly strong as a stand alone book.
- However, Sting: the scorpion man from the same sub-series (The Dark Realm) is quite cohesive. It features some geographical movement, but the foe is well characterised and the book delivers some development of the main plot involving the children, the wizards and the gatekeeper.
The other books reviewed here are from the recent The Shade of Death series which appears to represent a maturation of Blade's imaginative concept and narrative prowess.
In Koldo: the Arctic Warrior, Tom and Elenna are on a quest to locate and free specific beast monsters form the dominion of the evil wizard Velmal. However, these creatures are only harmful to people because the beasts have been cursed.
The beast in this volume is Koldo the ice-man, and when his shield is taken by the villagers, he becomes powerless. He is held in the centre of the village, immobilised by the presence of torches and becomes the local tourist attraction. Not only is this cruel, but the ice-man may still be a danger to the village, so Tom must break the spell and resolve the situation.
Fight scenes are included as part of the struggle between good and evil, but the children avoid taking the life of the creatures that attack them. The story is easy to read, and the values represented are positive.
Hawkite: arrow of the air reads like a written version of a Japanese manga episode. Tom has finished some of his quests, aquiring useful magical items along the way. He has a pearl which helps him breathe under water and a feather on his shield which enables him to slow his fall.
The beast in this book appears invincible. It is a giant hawk which creates such a strong wind with its wings that an entire village has lost its crops and is starving to death. The reader is left wondering how Tom will prevail for much of the text.
A personal mystery seems to be developing concerning Freya, the captured woman doomed to command the evil beasts. This volume does not provide answers, it asks questions - what is Freya to Tom? His mother perhaps? Sister? Future wife - but if so the faithful Elenna is going to get her feelings hurt!