Win a great children’s book by James Hook

Sports literature for children has a special importance because it can encourage youngsters to get into reading through their love of sport.

It was pleasing to see the Telegraph Sports Book Awards recognise this by adding a new category, the Children’s Sports Book of the Year, to their portfolio in 2020. And pleasing, too, to see an addition to the niche market that is children’s rugby literature.

James Hook’s book Kick-off, part one of a series titled Chasing a Rugby Dream, came out last autumn. The former Wales and Lions fly-half had the idea for the book after struggling to find anything suitable for his eldest son, Harrison.

David Brayley, a sportswriter from Swansea, came on board to offer his considerable expertise and the result is an enjoyable read in which lessons for life pepper the narrative.

At the foot of this article, we’re offering you the chance to win one of six signed copies of the book. First, here’s some detail about the content of Kick-off.

Hook says he has created a fictional school-age version of himself. Thus Jimmy Joseph, aged ten, is the rugby-mad hero of the story. He’s a lad forced to deal with hurdles ranging from asthma and wearing glasses to bullying and outright persecution.

Win a great children's book by James Hook

Hook playing for the Ospreys, where he now coaches

Along the way, there is no end of good advice offered from Joseph’s friends and family, and a satisfying comeuppance for the tyrannical rugby master, Mark Kane, who treats Joseph so appallingly.

Indeed, Kane’s behaviour is so outrageous, most notably during a school match in which he referees and cheats shamelessly, that at times the parody makes you laugh.

We have goodies and baddies and a baddie turned goodie in the 1st XV full-back Mike Green, demonstrating that some people can change tack if given a second chance.

There is technical skills advice from the legendary former pro who befriends Joseph after spotting him kicking a ball around in the park. And there are numerous mentions of real-life rugby stars, including Shane Williams, who offers advice to small players – like Joseph – on a YouTube video that the book’s hero watches for extra motivation.

Hook says he hopes the book will entertain adults as well as children. “There is nothing better than grown-ups and children enjoying books together,” says the Welshman, a father of three who works as a skills coach for the Ospreys. In that we believe he has succeeded.

Here’s a brief extract that touches on another of the book’s themes, gender equality. Joseph’s friend Kitty, a super-fast winger and the only girl in the school team, is being asked by Joseph’s mum why she plays rugby. Kitty replies…

“My dad told me a long time ago to pick a sport you love and also to pick a sport you’re good at. That way you’ll make friends for life and will always have a good, strong level of fitness. I like football, too, but my favourite has always been rugby, so I just went for it.

“When my dad realised that’s what I wanted to do, he began to teach me about tackling and how to do it safely. So before I even started playing properly, he’d make me practise tackling in the garden with one of his big punch bags. And then we’d spend hours watching Massive Rugby Hits on YouTube together, so that I could see for myself the best ways to tackle.”

James Hook book cover

“Ah, I watch that one too!” exclaimed Jimmy. “It’s awesome. Have you seen the one where Semi Radradra smashes Liam Williams when Fiji played Wales in the 2019 World Cup?”

“Yeah, it’s brutal!” laughs Kitty.

Now enter our competition to win the book or buy it here

Kick-off by James Hook, written in collaboration with David Brayley, is published by Polaris, RRP £7.99. Signed copies are available via the Polaris Publishing website or you can buy the book by clicking on the link below.

We also have six signed copies to give away. For a chance to win James Hook’s book, answer the question below and fill in your details. The competition closes on Friday 18 June.

James Hook lines up a kick

James Hook lines up a kick during a Premiership match in 2016 – but for whom was he playing? (Getty)

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Terms and conditions

The competition closes at 10am on Friday 18 June 2021. Six winners will be selected at random, each winning a signed copy of Kick-off by James Hook. Normal Future Plc competition rules apply. Competition details form part of these terms and conditions. Entry is open to residents of the UK, Channel Islands and Republic of Ireland except employees (and their families) of Future Plc, its printers and agents, the suppliers of the prizes and any other companies associated with the competitions. The winners must be aged 18 or over. Proof of identity and age may be required. Use of a false name or address will result in disqualification. All entries must be made directly by the person entering the competition. Entries made online using methods generated by a script, macro or the use of automated devices will be void. The prizes are as stated, are not transferable to another individual and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. Prizes are subject to availability and the prize suppliers’ terms and conditions. The promoters reserve the right to amend or alter the terms of competitions and reject entries from entrants not entering into the spirit of the competition. The winner agrees to the use of his or her name, photograph and disclosure of county of residence and will co-operate with any other reasonable requests by Future Plc relating to any post-winning publicity. The winners will be chosen from all correct entries received by the closing date stated within the promotional material. Winners will be confirmed in writing. Reasonable efforts will be made to contact a winner. Failure to respond and/or provide an address for delivery, or failure to meet the eligibility requirements may result in forfeiture of the prize. If they cannot be contacted, or are unable to comply with these terms and conditions, the Promoter reserves the right to offer the prize to the next eligible entrant drawn at random. Where applicable, the decision of the judges is final based on the criteria set out in the promotion and no correspondence will be entered into over this decision. Competitions may be modified or withdrawn at any time. The Service Provider and contact details are specified within the promotional material.