Book review: Polly Plays her Part by Anne-Marie Conway

Polly Carter is a difficult sort of girl...she finds it hard to make friends and her dad says she’s always looking for a fight.

Monday, 13th December 2010, 6:00 am

But first appearances can be so deceptive because underneath her surly exterior, there’s a talented 12-year-old who longs to be the star of the show.

Polly Plays her Part, the second book in Anne-Marie Conway’s sparkling Star Makers Club series, is a winner from start to finish and more than confirms her growing reputation as a top-class children’s author.

Warm and wise, funny, gripping and full of important home truths, Conway’s clever stories pack real-life domestic dramas into entertaining stories of stage-struck youngsters.

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Carefully buried in her exciting tales of drama club dramas are life lessons for children whose comfort zones are swept away by the bewildering turmoil of events at home.

What Polly’s classmates don’t realise is that her life has not been plain sailing since Dad moved in with Diane who just happens to live only seven houses away from Polly and her Mum.

Dad and Diane, who tries too hard to be nice, now have baby Jake and what Polly would really like to do is wave a magic wand and make them disappear.

And that’s hardly likely to happen, particularly as Mum has announced that she is going to work in Spain for a year, leaving Polly with – you’ve guessed it – Dad, Diane and ‘Jakey-boy’.

Polly’s only remaining comforts are the laptop Dad bought her to ‘try and make everything OK’ and the fun of her school’s Star Makers Club which is currently planning to stage a new musical.

Polly, who has no self-confidence and worries constantly about what people think of her, would love to be the star and is overjoyed when, against the odds, she lands the plum role.

But instead of learning her all-important lines, she’s busy creating a new identity for herself on an internet chatroom and becoming lost in a dangerous virtual world.

Frustrated, angry and bewildered, her dreams of stardom are starting to rapidly disappear.

Glitz and glamour with a real-life edge.

(Usborne, paperback, £5.99)

And if it’s madcap entertainment you’re looking for, join in the antics of the wackiest football club in the ancient world

The Great Kit Catastrophe (Usborne, paperback, £4.99), the latest crazy adventure in Eric Brumpton’s hilarious Dino FC series, sees the team of dinosaurs facing disaster as both their kit and their football start to fall apart.

Club chairman Danny Deinonychus reckons he has the answer to their problems...he’ll hold a competition to design a new kit and their upgraded look will help get them back into the game.

Unfortunately, not only is the ‘new’ kit suspiciously similar to the old one, it doesn’t fit. With Pteradonna goalkeeping in a kit that’s too big and Marcus Diplodocus defending in too-small shorts, Dino FC’s footballers really are fashion victims, losing 5-1 to Supersaurus Celtic.

Disappointed manager Terry Triceratops gives away the new kit to some young Dino fans and the team go back to their old shabby chic.

But could the surprise appearance of their new fans at the next match give Dino FC the boost they need to inspire them to victory? After all, it isn’t about the shirt, but about the dinosaur inside it.

Brumpton’s lively, comic-style illustrations bring extra life and colour to all the exciting escapades of his prehistoric players making them a must-have read for young football fans who just want to have fun!