Check out our reviews by some of our readers.
Professor Benjamin Zephaniah
This book is about more than football, it's about people. Young people and their possibilities.
Venessa Taylor has a fresh, unique approach to writing. She is a true creative. Every character is whole, and this book has soul.
Victoria Simmons, Deputy Headteacher (Inclusion)
I really enjoyed reading Baller Boys.
It's so refreshing to read a book that has such a diverse range of characters.
I love the message that if you are determined and don't let setbacks pull you down, you can be successful.
Each character has their own challenges but with the care and support of the team, they do not let them get in their way.
This book will grab the attention of any football crazy young person but will go on to help them see that kindness and understanding can make a huge difference to someone's life.
It will also inspire young people to believe that if they work together, they do have the power to change things.
As an inclusion lead, I truly believe it is important for children with additional needs and those that have non-traditional family structures see themselves represented in the books they read.
This book will support such children to see their lives reflected in a positive light through the lives of the boys in this book.
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Alex Wheatle, MBE
Baller Boys is a fantastic read for any young person interested in football, friendship and perusing your dreams.
The characters are diverse and richly talented.
The story will warm your heart.
Bejal Mistry, Teacher
I couldn't wait to start reading this as I'd heard so many great reviews. I was fortunate to receive an early copy and I enjoyed sharing it with my students who can't wait for the book to go on sale.
Joanne Meeks, Librarian
I read this book with my godson who is of mixed heritage and he loved seeing characters that looked like him and had the same interests as him.
Baller Boys is fun, easy reading and the characters really do come to life!
Finally, a series that ALL children can relate to.
These books touch upon current issues that we face in today's society, that many people struggle to understand.
This series will take pride of place on my bookshelf for generations to come.
Jahnyel, 7 Year Old
I really like the book. My favourite character is Shay. I really like the way that Shay jumped on the bed. I could also relate to the characters. I felt like Shay was a happy boy who loves his family and likes attention. I felt the message of the book was about being kind.
Accounts Navigator Associates
We are proud to sponsor Baller Boys Books. The message that is portrayed in Baller Boys Books is extremely powerful and relatable to young children today. As well as an interesting and fun read the book also teaches young people about teamwork, leadership, inspiration and culture.
Joe Black - Football Coach/Player
A great story detailing the ups and downs of youth football. A highly recommended read.
Val Beyoglu, Lea Valley Primary School
Baller Boys is a truly engaging story, using a range of characters, so ALL readers will be able to find someone they can identify with. The themes of football, dedication and friendship are used effectively by Venessa, who has predominantly aimed to develop the reading abilities of boys- unfortunately often known to be reluctant readers. This is the perfect reading material to grab their interest. This is not only a great read, but will also encourage children to understand that everyone- regardless of race and health / personal issues- can overcome challenges, contribute to effective teamwork and can succeed in making their dreams come true.
Books like these are why I enjoyed reading as a kid. Not only does it talk about something fun and exciting, football/soccer, but it's an easy and fun read! Reluctant readers will love this book!
Tovonya Raybe - Cheerleading Director & Coach
Venessa Taylor’s debut book about young boys from various walks of life; inspired by real people and events in her own life, is truly remarkable. Whilst the book is centred around Football, as a former Competitor & now Coach & Director in Cheerleading, it was one even as an adult that I could relate to. My club Marshals Cheer & Dance is one of the most diverse programs in the UK, we are home to many black and brown boys and girls, but we equally have kids with heritage from Eastern Europe, UK and India. I was thrilled to see a book reflect that, it was rather refreshing. It explores themes such as cultural difference, diversity, teamwork and friendship. Themes of which couldn’t be any more appropriate for young readers to explore at this time. The themes were strong, consistent and clear throughout the book, and as a result l found that there was lots of valuable opportunity for learning.
I must say, even though it’s a children’s book I thoroughly enjoyed it. The friendships between the characters, in particular the main character Shay and his Best-friend Frankie, reminded me of ones I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing and witnessing over the years as a Competitor and Coach. Friendships amongst children are the most genuine friendships you’ll find, for them it doesn’t matter whether you’re black, white, pink or yellow. You’ll also find parents that are polar opposites, building healthy friendships too, that often flourish into friendships they’d never imagined. ‘Baller Boys’ captured exactly that, the story lines and everything in it was very authentic.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book, put simply, it’s easy to read, the themes are current and clear; and whilst it’s fun fiction, it has lots of valuable teaching points, it’s just perfect.
Professor Marcia A. Wilson Ph.D
This excellent book is a much needed addition to the literary world and should be in every school library. Baller Boys is a story about the friendship between Shay and Frankie and their passion for football. The importance of this book is the diversity of characters and their everyday experiences. The story is beautifully written so that children will be able to identify with the diverse characters and be able to see themselves reflected in the story. It is a great way to get children, especially boys engaged in reading. Baller Boys is well written, humorous, and a page turner!
Nyesha Jones Director of Paper Pages Publishing Ltd
Venessa Taylor takes readers on a heart-warming journey to witness the birth of 9 ‘Baller Boys’ and their friendships.
Each character, unique in their backgrounds, skills and talents will relate to so many children and their adversities and experiences. Tackling issues such as health, families and emotions, Shay’s loyalty and “never give up” attitude is a message that will stay with readers forever, especially football lovers.
There is no doubt that representation matters and children need to see books that reflect themselves. Not just in ethnicity, but through their limitations, strengths and weaknesses.
Baller Boys is a fantastic portrayal of that diversity and how it can be celebrated through the gift of friendship and the love of football.
“But he was a good footballer and that was all they cared about.”
Aleiseia, 7 Year Old
I think the book is interesting and I really liked the picture cards. I feel like there are lots of good words that I can use in my own writing. I really like the football sections. My favourite character is Shay. I think he is very energetic and loves playing with his dad. I liked the message of the book - that you should keep trying and don't give-up.
Kairo, 8 Year Old
The characters are children I can relate to as they like doing the same things that I do. I am really excited to find out what happens in the next book
Saranna Maynard - Football Mum
What a brilliant, well written book! Being a football mum to a son who struggled with reading growing up I would have loved this for him.
A book about his love, with characters that reflect the diversity of friends that he used to play with. Everything about this book echoes and mirrors my son and will do the same for a lot of boys through all walks of life. I love the style of writing, the description of all the characters and the highs and lows of the families. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!
Scope for Imagination
Aimed at children who absolutely love football, especially boys, this exciting, heart-warming story will encourage even the most reluctant reader to give it a try. Soon they will be swept away in the play-by-play action. I can think of numerous football-mad kids – both boys and girls – who will devour this story and love going through every moment with the lovable characters.
This chapter book is perfect for kids who like sports, who have felt left out or different, and like stories of friendship.
Ebony Fergus, Year 6, Literacy Lead, Daubeney Primary School
Baller Boys is a fun and engaging story for children in KS2. I really like the fact the characters are very relatable as they are diverse and come from a range of different backgrounds and cultures. As a Literacy Lead and class teacher in a very culturally diverse school, I think that it so important for children to be able to see themselves in the books that they read. Although the story centres around football, the characters face challenges and issues that are relevant to all children. It teaches many valuable lessons about friendship, teamwork and achieving your goals and can be used in KS2 classes to incite great class discussions and learning opportunities.
Anthony Acheampong - Football Consultant and Former England C Player
Pulling inspiration from people and events in her own life Venessa's debut book about young boys; from all walks of life, united through football, is truly exceptional.
Growing up I wouldn't say I was much of a reader, however if I had books featuring characters similar to myself and friends, and of course about football, I would have definitely picked up more than a book or two.
Admittedly it made me quite keen to check out its authenticity and whether the title really captured how culturally unique and different players are in football; as well as whether the lingo and football jargon was true to life, to make it all that more real. To my surprise this book did exactly that.
The book explored themes of team work, friendship, hard work, culture, and leadership, those of which are important for young readers and lovers of football as they navigate through todays world, this book definitely would have been good for when I was growing up.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book, it's star character Shay and his best friend Frankie reminded me very much of my Caucasian primary school best friend. We loved football and were aspiring Baller Boys too, I remember those team dinners, and sponsor forms all to clearly. Like the book I met lots of different people, whom I made great friendships, and bonds with. It was refreshing to read a book that undoubtedly reflected how diverse London and football is, and I was delighted to be able to be drawn back to a time, when I was a young boy growing up and loving everything football.
Perfect for footie fans.
An extremely entertaining story about a group of boys from North London, who absolutely love to play football and their dream is, to be picked to play in a team called ‘All Cultures United’.
The main characters are best friends Shay and Frankie, who face challenges with their friendship, health and peers. The relatable characters are from a diverse range of back grounds and their actions highlight how it is better to work together as a team.
This book really fills a gap in the market as it is representative of the multi cultured world we live in today. I found it encouraging that all the children and their families are shown in such a positive way and that although we might be different there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t all get along. Any child reading this book will find a character and family that is similar to them.
The books real strength is that the characters are believable and the issues raised are relevant to the lives of children living in this day and age, such as: asthma, wearing glasses and feeling jealous and confused. The reader will be able to identify with their dilemmas and how they are resolved. The main message is to be kind to each other, try your best and never give up. Very important values to teach any child as they grow into our new generation of adults.
I really loved the little touches of everyday life at the beginning of the book; Shay’s afro being combed; Frankie wanting to call his baby brother Sanchez (his favourite footballer), and mum going out; forgetting that she was still wearing her night time wrap on her head!
Shay and Frankie have to deal with only one of them being selected for the team and a team mate who tries to interfere in their friendship. Shay also shows his compassionate side when we see how he helps and includes a child, who behaves differently, because of his special needs. I really enjoyed seeing how the children dealt with these issues. Children can also go on the Baller Boys website and find out more about each character a feature that all children will love.
This book can be read independently by a child, at a book club or together with a parent, as there are so many issues that can be discussed. This is a great ‘feel good’ book that any child aged 7+ would enjoy. I strongly recommend it 5 out 5!
Polly Dawson, School Librarian
This highly engaging football book I'm sure will become a family favourite. The characters are diverse and interesting and not the standard boys we would normally meet in a book like this. Shay one of the main characters has asthma, however he is not going to let that hinder him from pursing his passion playing football, Likewise many of the boys have their own difficulties with ADHD, nut allergies, confidence and navigating school and family life. I love that the focus of the book is on always trying your best, being determined, and committed to improving. A great understanding of children shines throughout the book. There are some great dialogues between the adults and the children and I feel this would make a great book for Book clubs at libraries and schools to discuss all the issues written about. Just the right amount of illustrations helps to draw us into the book and move the story along. This is perfect for reluctant readers! Football paradise that children can relate, at last! Highly recommended, plus football cards. A great read.