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Little Ash Books 1-4 – Perfect Match, Friendship Fix-It, Tennis Rush, Goal Setter by Jasmin McGaughey and Jade Goodwin, Ash Barty

Title: Little Ash Books 1-4 – Perfect Match, Friendship Fix-It, Tennis Rush, Goal Setter

Author: Jasmin McGaughey and Jade Goodwin, Ash Barty

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: HarperCollins Australia

Published: 6th July 2022

Format: Paperback

Pages: 64

Price: $9.99

Synopsis:

Perfect Match: Australian tennis superstar Ash Barty teams up with Jasmin McGaughey and Jade Goodwin to bring young readers this fun and exciting new illustrated series about school, sport, friendship and family. Ash loves to play sport. She’s tried karate, softball, netball and gymnastics. But none of those sports give her that tingly feeling, the one where you know it’s something you’ll absolutely love to do. How will Ash ever choose?

Friendship Fix-It: Australian tennis superstar Ash Barty teams up with Jasmin McGaughey and Jade Goodwin to bring young readers this fun and exciting new illustrated series about school, sport, friendship and family. Ash can’t wait to play tennis with the big kids at school today! But when James’s big school project breaks, Ash has to decide whether to help her friend fix his project at lunchtime, or play the game she loves. What will she do?

Tennis Rush: Australian tennis superstar Ash Barty teams up with Jasmin McGaughey and Jade Goodwin to bring young readers this fun and exciting new illustrated series about school, sport, friendship and family. It’s the day of the tennis tournament and Ash is so excited to compete! But Ash forgets her favourite hat, there’s a flat tyre and Ash wonders how they will ever get there! Will Ash arrive in time for her big match?

Goal Setter: Australian tennis superstar Ash Barty teams up with Jasmin McGaughey and Jade Goodwin to bring young readers this fun and exciting new illustrated series about school, sport, friendship and family. Ash loves playing sport, but when she loses the lunchtime touch footy match, it sends her into a spin. What if she can’t win anything ever again? Ash knows the answer. If she never plays anything again, then she won’t have to lose! Will Ash quit sport for good?

~*~

The Little Ash series, presented by Ash Barty, and written by Jasmin McGaughey, and  illustrated by Jade Goodwin is a fun collaboration between three Indigenous women for younger readers that celebrates friendship, family, sport, and community.

The first in the series, Perfect Match, introduces us to seven-year-old Ash, who is about to start year two, and she has to choose a sport for the year. But she doesn’t like what she has been trying, and nothing is giving her the tingly feeling – the joy she longs for. So Ash’s best friend James and her family all pitch in to help her find a sport – and hopefully, she will! The first book in any series establishes the tone and the characters. This has been done well in the first Little Ash book, which younger readers will hopefully adore. It gives  younger readers a good role model for sports and learning all kinds of lessons, which is done in a fun and vibrant way.

The second book, Friendship Fix-It, is about deciding what the right thing to do is – going off to play tennis, or helping your best friend with his project? Ash wants to do both – she only gets to play tennis with the older kids one day a week, but James also needs her help urgently. And Ash has to decide which thing she is going to do. In a cute, fun, and accessible way, Ash’s decision shows that it is always good to do the right thing, even if it means sacrificing something you really want to do, and I loved that Ash is able to learn throughout and communicate with everyone around her – this novel in particular shows kids the importance of choices, communication, and not being afraid to admit to other people that you have something else you need to do, and that you don’t always have to do what everyone expects you to.

Onto the third book, Tennis Rush. Ash can’t wait to get to the tennis tournament – but she’s in such a hurry to get there, and in such a rush to celebrate her win, she forgets the most important thing about sportsmanship. Poor Ash needs constant reminders in this book, but in her true fashion, she comes up with a wonderful solution that celebrates her win and her sportsmanship. I loved this because it is a good story to remind kids about being a good sport and about communication in different contexts, and what it means to be a good friend as well. It’s another lesson for Ash to learn, and she pulls it off really well.

Finally, the fourth book, Goal Getter, has Ash playing and watching touch football, and learning lessons about losing. Ash loves to win, but she’s disappointed when she keeps losing and starts to lose faith in her ability to play sports. Will Ash give up sports for good? This book has another important lesson about life and sports – that you won’t always win and will have to compromise at times. Ash’s experiences losing show that you can still have fun and in sports, that is the most important thing.

The series overall is cute, fun, and full of great lessons about decisions, friendship, sacrifice and good sportsmanship – and these can be lessons that can be applied to everything in life, not just sports. The wonderfully creative team behind these books has ensured that readers will get something out of these books, whether they are sporty or not, or whatever sport they play or follow. I think these lessons are important throughout life – to remember that we won’t always do well, we won’t always get what we want. I loved that the books allowed Ash to grow – there were some things she was probably experiencing for the first time, and it was wonderful to see this acknowledged, that there are always some things that little kids may not always understand until they experience them and have someone talk to them about it. And it is human to need reminders about things sometimes, like Ash’s good sportsmanship in Tennis Rush, or the various lessons she learns about the right decisions in the first two books. I think the universality of these lessons, told through the lens of sports and with a powerful Indigenous voice, means that the lessons have been made accessible – they’re on a young kid’s level of understanding, which will help younger readers access and read the books, and be able to relate to them on many levels.

This is such a fun series, and I loved reading it!

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