Book Review: Alfie Jones and a Change of Fortune by David Fuller
Alfie Jones and a Change of Fortune (RDF publishing) is a first novel by David Fuller which is aimed at football-mad children (aged between 8 and 11). The author has writing experience gleaned from eight years working as a magazine journalist and editor. Away from the world of words, David Fuller is an FA Qualified Coach who puts this skill to use each Saturday at a Soccer School in Brighton and as manager of an Under 10’s team. This mix of skills and knowledge provide the writer with the perfect combination for the writing of this novel.
Before getting onto the content of the book itself, it is worth mentioning the illustrations of Rob Smyth. His drawings are used sparingly within the book, but do provide striking images of the central characters (for instance, Alfie, Madame Zola and Jasper) which help the reader in creating an image of the characters. Smyth also created the cover for the novel, which on first picking up the book does not obviously show that this is a football-based story. The illustration depicts Madame Zola looking into a crystal ball, on which there is a small image of Alfie playing football. It wonderfully compliments the book title, but it is only when you read the back of the book that the football focus of the novel is clear.
“…Alfie Jones loves football and used to enjoy nothing more than playing for his beloved Kingsway Colts alongside his best friends. However, ever since Kingsway’s elderly coach was taken ill and replaced by the father of Archie’s arch-rival, Jasper, playing for the Colts has not proved to be such an enjoyable experience…Yet, just as it seems that Alfie will be left with no other choice but to leave the Colts, he meets a mysterious fortune teller who has some important news for the young boy – if he stays with the Colts he will one day realise his dreams of becoming a professional footballer…But with Kingsway’s new coach and his son both determined to make Alfie’s life as miserable as possible, staying with the Colt’s proves to be easier said than done and Alfie soon finds his desire to fulfil his destiny put to the ultimate test…”
At 162 pages and twenty two chapters, it is a good sized read. Overall, it is an engaging novel with some cracking little twists and turns. The central football storyline has an authentic feel about it and the book is not afraid to reflect some of the issues which are pertinent in junior football today, such as, playing for enjoyment versus winning at all cost, fair-play and the role of parents. There is also some mystery and magic provided in the guise of Madame Zola and gentle humour throughout. The characters are believable and readers will connect with them. All in all a recommended read.
Bring on the next instalment in the Alfie Jones story!