Last Girl In by Cheryl Diane Parkinson – at a glance
The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Cricket, Windrush, heritage, growing up.
Children’s book title: Last Girl In.
Children’s author: Cheryl Diane Parkinson
Genre: Children’s fiction, sports fiction.
Published by: Dinosaur Books.
Recommended for children aged: 8-12 year-olds.
First published: Paperback May 2023.
This children’s book is ideal for: Sports-loving youngsters and less confident readers.
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Kerry-Ann is a cricket nut, just like her grandpa who taught her everything he knows. Each Saturday she rushes to her club because the first team to arrive gets to use the pitch and then she can spend the day with her friends playing, practising, and generally enjoying their company. Something has changed, however, that she knew nothing about, meaning her weekends won’t be the same and she doesn’t know what to do, especially as it is such an important year.
When an idea comes to Kerry-Ann she realises the solution could be simple if she can arrange it. Her grandpa gives her advice and her nana tells her family stories to relax her which she loves. A very strange thing happens to Kerry-Ann at her grandparent’s home, although she isn’t sure she’ll ever be able to tell them about it, and it strengthens her resolve and makes her wonder if Grandpa has always known. As everything comes to a head Kerry-Ann realises it’s down to her to ensure the changes she needs are made and even if it isn’t easy it is worth fighting for.
This is an easy read with a brilliant, likeable, main protagonist who faces changes she can’t avoid but doesn’t like. It is the last year Kerry-Ann can play mixed cricket and her club has no girls-only teams. Her grandpa has been unwell and is feeling sad but the family ties shine through and the reasons behind it struck a chord.
Although not mentioned by name in the story, Kerry-Ann’s grandparents are part of the Windrush generation with the fantasy/ time slip part of the story giving an insight into some of what happened. The understanding she gains, especially of how her grandpa is feeling and why, adds an extra layer to this lovely story.
The cricket angle will appeal to sports lovers and although it isn’t a game I follow I had no problems with any of the terminology. Less confident readers will enjoy this story with short chapters. At 150 pages, this is not a long book, but nothing feels rushed or missing and it provides a very satisfying reading experience.
A feel-good book with a positive message throughout, Last Girl In highlights the advantages of believing in yourself.
- Children will empathise with the main protagonist who is highly relatable.
- Diverse and inclusive themes: Kerry-Ann is a sporty girl who loves cricket and wears glasses. The story explores her Jamaican heritage and themes of friendship, competition, differences, and multi-generational families.
- There’s an ideal opportunity for students in KS2 to create a glossary for cricketing terms in literacy lessons.
- Teachers will find Last Girl In a useful class reader text for Windrush-related teaching topics
- In literacy or drama, children can hot seat and discuss the dialogue scenes and situations in the story.
- The publisher’s website includes teacher resources and information about author visits.
Many thanks to Dinosaur Books for the review copy.
If you like Last Girl In by Cheryl Diane Parkinson you might also like: our reviews of Our Beautiful Game by Lou Kuenzler, Kofi and the Rap Battle Summer by Jeffrey Boakye, Ajay and the Jaipur Moon by Varsha Shah, Vita and the Gladiator by Ally Sherrick and Emily Windsnap and the Pirate Prince by Liz Kessler.
Last Girl In by Cheryl Diane Parkinson is featured in our June 2023 book club picks.