The true story of footballing sensation, Lily Parr: this is simultaneously an engaging picture book and a useful resource for primary school teachers.
This is the true story of Lily Parr who was born in 1905 and went on to become an international footballing sensation. From an early age Lily loved to play football and she was exceptionally good at it. So good, in fact, that at the age of just 14 she was offered a job in a factory so she could join their football team. It was one of the best teams in the country and very popular with spectators – until 1921 when the English Football Association banned women’s teams from playing in their grounds. This didn’t stop Lily and her teammates who started playing wherever they could. They even travelled to the United States of America to play there, making newspaper headlines. Lily played for 31 years, acting as a trailblazer for women’s football. However, it wasn’t until 1971 that the ban on women’s football was finally lifted and in 2019 that the first statue of a woman footballer was unveiled – a statue of Lily Parr in the National Football Museum in Manchester.
It is not very often that a picture book makes a strong political statement, or that it works as a book for young children when it does. This book, however, does both brilliantly. It is easy to read and highly informative for both adults and children alike. As someone with zero knowledge of football, I was shocked to find that discrimination against women playing football lasted into the 1970s and the first time a woman was formally acknowledged was only last year (2019)! Indeed, it makes me wonder how many other injustices lurk in our society seemingly (or actually) unnoticed.
As a picture book, the story works well. Children often don’t differentiate fact and fiction so many will simply accept this as an interesting story. Older readers who are aware that this is narrative non-fiction, are likely to enjoy the added factual ‘information bubbles’ which include snippets about how many goals Lily scored and the fact she was left-footed. I couldn’t resist going back to re-read these again, enjoying learning about the rise of women’s football during the First World War and becoming incensed all over again at the claims made about the unsuitability of football for women’s bodies!
The illustrations are a perfect match for the text. The pictures are clear enough to show what’s happening yet child friendly and modern enough to be appealing. The book is likely to be a useful resource for teachers of primary school age children, with the pictures and format making it much more engaging for their students than many traditional text books.
If you enjoyed this, you might want to explore other narrative non-fiction stories. Teachers might want to explore the other educational books available from Maverick Publishing, including their useful early reading schemes, which area available for readers at different levels: I’ve posted reviews on levels 3 / 4, and 9 / 10.
Publication Date: August 2020
Publisher: Maverick Publishing