With the FIFA Women’s World Cup firmly in the limelight this year, ‘Lily and the Rockets’ would be an excellent choice of book to introduce readers to the time when the first women’s league was formed and pulled in crowds of over 50,000 at its peak!
Lily is tall, broad and has hands the size of shovels, which is useful because that’s what makes her such a fantastic goalkeeper. No one at school (girl or boy) can get a shot past her. On her last day of school, Lily and best-friend Amy May are thinking about their dream jobs. Lily’s dream of becoming a professional goalkeeper seems very unlikely as girls do not play football. And they certainly don’t get paid for it!
Instead, a sad event means the pair of friends pledge to make a difference to the war effort. Amy May is going to head to France to train as a nurse and Lily’s going to work at the Arsenal munitions Factory as a munitionette. It’s there that Lily discovers ‘The Rockets’ and soon becomes their star goalie.
When the war ends, so does Lily’s job and her chance of playing football. It’s then that she decides: if her only chance of playing football is with the men, then that’s what she’ll do!
Rebecca Stevens has woven a tale of friendship, first love, independence and determination. I loved the way she highlighted the vital role women played in keeping Britain running during the First World War when all the young men had gone off to fight. The mistrust they faced from some of the men who couldn’t fight and thought women shouldn’t be in the workplace. The derision faced by the girls who choice to play football. And the courage and determination they displayed when they demanded to be treated as equals.
I also enjoyed the theme of letters going back and forth from the front line between Lily and Amy May, and Lily’s handsome young soldier, Jack. It was interesting to learn about the little notes and trinkets the munitionettes packed in with bombs they helped manufacture to help boost the morale of the troops. And Lily’s (very innocent) first crush was believably written.
A great read for anyone with an interest in history, football or plain old good story telling. 9+
Many thanks to Chicken House Books for sending me this title to review and inviting me to be part of the blog tour. Make sure you visit some of the other stops too.